Watch a Self-Driving Tesla Get Completely Baffled by a Road Worker Directing Traffic

Construction Zone

Tesla might call its advanced driver assistance feature Full-Self Driving (FSD), but the "full" part often feels indefinitely deferred.

Take this video by Scott Woods, a huge Tesla fan and the personality behind the X account Whole Mars Catalog — a riff on the iconic Whole Earth Catalog — who posted a YouTube video this week of himself behind the wheel of a Tesla on Sunday with FSD engaged.

During the 20-minute video, the Tesla is mainly able to navigate the leafy and complex roadways between Sausalito to San Francisco with no human intervention, but gets confused when confronted by a construction worker wearing bright orange safety gear and carrying a STOP sign.

Without Woods intervening, the steering slouches to the left as if the vehicle were going to drive around the road worker, in flagrant violation of traffic law. For several long and awkward seconds, the car is stopped in the middle of the road, right on the yellow median line, while the construction worker repeatedly gestures for the Tesla to get off the road.

Finally, when another vehicle appears around the curve in the opposite direction, Woods takes hold of the steering wheel and maneuvers the Tesla to the right to let the other vehicle go through.

Open Beta

Tesla critics seized on the footage. Entrepreneur and Tesla gadfly Dan O'Dowd posted the video on X, pointedly telling Tesla CEO Elon Musk that "your defective software should be banned from public roads."

The video comes on the heels of more tough optics for Tesla's self-driving efforts. In a different viral video, a Tesla with FSD engaged swerves into oncoming traffic right as the driver brags to a friend about the quality of the software. In another scary incident, yet another Tesla on driver assist barrels straight toward a series of moving train cars as the driver desperately seizes the controls.

The incidents illustrate a common theme: that self-driving cars are reliable as long as everything on the road goes according to plan, but when unusual situations come up — a chaotic construction site, say, or a visually confusing train crossing — it often craps out at the worst possible moment.

For now — despite mayhem on the roads and investigations from federal authorities — these vehicles remain out in the wild, with non-Tesla drivers, pedestrians and road workers acting as guinea pigs in an uncontrolled experiment. In the end, will they make the roads safer for us all? It's possible, but we're not holding our breath.

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