OT: you should read the article in todays Sunday Times about software updates on tesla cars with features added and deleted over night..
Copied below as its behind the fire wall....
Drivers spooked by ‘ghost in the machine’ dashboard updates
Hi-tech cars can be reprogrammed by manufacturers overnight, with unsettling effects, as owners have found
When you get in your car in the morning, you might expect it to be the car that you left the night before.
Not any more. James May, the television presenter, and Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, have found that their cars behaved differently after software changes, some of them delivered silently through the air.
For May, it was as if there was a ghost in the machine when his car — a Tesla Model S — was tugged towards the middle of a narrow road as he hugged the verge to avoid oncoming traffic.
It was a feature that May, 57, did not know that his car had acquired until the drama on a Wiltshire country lane.
“A message came up saying, ‘Corrective steering applied for your safety’,” said May. “I thought: it’s actually not for my safety, because there’s a bloody great tractor coming the other way.”
May said he wrestled the wheel and the encounter with the tractor passed off without incident. “I had gone close to the edge of the road and the car obviously thought, ‘This bloke’s about to crash.’ If you push [the wheel] hard enough you can override it, but because it was new and I hadn’t experienced it before, it took me by surprise. I thought: the robots have taken over and we haven’t realised.”
He added: “I don’t know whether it was a recent update or I just hadn’t triggered it because I hadn’t gone so close to the kerb before.”
May said he did not recall being told by Tesla about his new safety feature — called Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance — in a software change that the California-based Tesla had launched after he ordered the car last year.
Tesla said the steering correction, which can be switched off at the start of each journey, was designed to guide a vehicle back into the driving lane if it detected that it was veering off course or was too close to the edge of the road.
The company says drivers have to acknowledge that they have read and understood instructions about the system when it is first downloaded to enable them to clear the information from a console screen.
May admitted that he may have been sent a notification and had ignored it.
“I can tell you unequivocally that I wouldn’t have read it because we’re all long past reading that bollocks. It’s only there to satisfy lawyers,” he said
He said he was otherwise a fan of his £86,150 battery-powered Tesla: “It’s polite, the day-to-day costs are low and it feels progressive, even magical. But I’m not blind to its shortcomings.”
Shapps, who is overseeing the government’s roll-out policy on automated cars, was also caught unawares by over-the-air changes made by Tesla to the £44,000 Model 3 that he bought last year. When the heating in the rear seats went cold, he assumed there was a malfunction until he learnt that it had been turned off.
“When I first got the car, I noticed it had heated rear seats, but after three months they disappeared. Now, if I want to pay for an upgrade, I can put them back. I have not done so — much to my kids’ disappointment — because Tesla want £300,” said Shapps, 52.
Describing many of the car’s features as “amazing” and its technology as “extraordinary”, he nevertheless confessed to not being sure what it might do next: “It’s actually quite hard to know which features are coming [and] which new things they’re adding,” he said.
Most recently, the Spotify service in Shapps’s car went silent until he agreed to pay for a £9.99 monthly subscription. (This time the children won.) The fact that such modifications could be made “over the air” from California took some getting used to, he admitted.
Tesla is leading the charge for over-the-air (OTA) updates, but the rest of the auto industry is catching up, with many companies offering to upgrade the way a car drives or to sell additional “comfort” and infotainment features. The explicit consent of the user is a precondition for updates, car companies insist.
Mercedes said that more than 50 features of its new S-Class — due in UK showrooms next year — will be updatable over the air via a mobile data connection. These include Drive Pilot, an automated system that restricts the car’s maximum speed to keep within limits.
Critics have taken to online forums to question whether owners are really in charge of modern cars when the vehicles can be reprogrammed from a distance by the manufacturer.
Sergio Matteo Savaresi, professor of automatic control at the Politecnico di Milano, said systems that allowed over-the-air updates could in theory be used to seize control of a car. “From a purely technical standpoint, the car can be disabled by the car-maker and can be remotely operated if a fast connection like 5G is available,” he said.
Earlier this year Tesla reportedly disabled software on a Model S that enabled the car to steer automatically around objects and make decisions about lane changing. A dealer had bought the car at auction and advertised it with the feature included, but the new owner was asked by Tesla to pay $8,000 to reactivate it.
Tesla fans defended the company, pointing out that General Motors can already disable cars that are reported as stolen using OnStar, an over-the-air security system. One wrote: “The provider of any service can shut it down. That doesn’t stop us from using broadband, gas, water, electricity, Gmail etc. Just because it can be turned off doesn’t mean it’s a remotely likely possibility.”
Tesla has used over-the-air updates to come to the aid of drivers. In 2017 it unlocked extra battery capacity in cars in Florida to help people flee Hurricane Irma. The updates gave cheaper Tesla models the range of more expensive models to help owners reach safety. Many owners eagerly await updates. When Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, turned on Full Self-Driving for some owners last month, early-adopters posted videos of themselves as their cars changed lanes and navigated around other vehicles without them touching the controls.
UK law requires drivers to be in full control, although Shapps’s department is consulting on allowing drivers to surrender partial control to an Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS), which is fitted to many modern cars including models by Audi, Volkswagen and Mercedes. When activated, the system adjusts the steering to keep the vehicle in its lane.
Shapps said such features “redefine the way we think of a car” and made it “part machine, part subscription service”. He lightheartedly agreed Musk could theoretically appear on the control screen and demand money, threatening to take over the car “by ransomware”. “Fascinating,” said Shapps.