Elon Musk joked about Tesla autopilot mistakes as the technology faces scrutiny: ‘I actually have a T-shirt with a stop sign on it. If you flash the car, it will stop.’

WASHINGTON DC, USA - MARCH 9: Elon Musk, Founder and Chief Engineer of SpaceX, speaks during the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, DC, United States on March 9, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

  • Elon Musk touted Tesla’s artificial intelligence with dancing robotsand self-driving cars.
  • One attendee asked if Tesla’s lack of 3D sensors could subject cars to “adversarial attacks.”
  • In response, Musk joked that his t-shirt with a stop sign on it has caused the car to stop.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk touted the company’s artificial intelligence technologies during Tesla’s “AI day” live-streamed on Thursday.

The event comes as Tesla’s self-driving and autopilot systems face increased scrutiny — on Monday, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a probe into 11 Tesla autopilot-related crashes.



Following detailed presentations led by various Tesla engineers and managers, one attendee asked Musk if he is worried about the car’s lack of 3D sensors allowing “adversarial attacks.”

In response, Musk said “we haven’t really seen much of that,” and went on to joke about how he’s personally tricked the autopilot system by showing the car a t-shirt with a stop sign on it.

“I actually have a T-shirt with a stop sign on it,” Musk joked to a laughing crowd. “If you flash the car, it will stop … I’ve proved it.”

“Obviously if we see these adversarial attacks then we can retrain the cars to notice that what’s actually a person wearing a t-shirt with a stop sign on it, is probably not a real stop sign,” Musk added.

In July, a viral tweet showed a Tesla repeatedly confusing the moon for a yellow traffic light as it drove down the highway.

“Hey @elonmusk you might want to have your team look into the moon tricking the autopilot system. The car thinks the moon is a yellow traffic light and wanted to keep slowing down,” the driver tweeted.

Other Tesla owners said their cars have been fooled by billboards, the sun, trucks, and Burger King signs, Insider’s Tim Levin reported. Despite Musk’s goal to eventually make the system safer than a human driver, it currently fails at things any human driver wouldn’t think twice about.



Tesla’s “Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control” feature, released via a software update in early 2020, is still in beta, and owners have to switch it on manually.

“Just like there are people on the road who with varying driving abilities we still let people drive,” Musk said during the event on Thursday. “You don’t have to be the world’s best driver to be on the road.”

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