According to Tesla’s AI software, Yellowstone National Park’s bison are people who magically shapeshift into dogs as the vehicle passes them.
At least that’s what one driver of a new Tesla new electric car discovered while cruising past Bison recently in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley.
“I was kind of expecting that it either wouldn’t show it, or I thought maybe it would make the bison show up as deer or something,” Trent Sizemore told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.
He was referring to the car’s AI camera system, which projects images of things along the upcoming roadside onto a dashboard display screen. It’s meant to alert the driver about what’s going on near the roadway, increasing chances of avoiding an accident.
‘Showing Them As People’
Sizemore is a professional wildlife photographer who lives in West Yellowstone, Montana, so he frequently drives around the park.
He said he bought the Tesla this summer and was eager to see how it would image roadside wildlife. He didn’t expect that the AI system would be programmed to recognize and accurately depict bison, which aren’t really a concern for most American drivers.
“I was suspecting that the display would show a deer or an opossum – some sort of animal that most people are more likely to encounter around big cities,” he said.
Instead, as he demonstrated in a video, Sizemore’s Telsa was befuddled by the bison lumbering along just a few feet from the side of the highway.
But instead of defaulting to a deer, opossum, raccoon, cow or some other common critter, the screen displayed bison along the roadside ahead as people out for a stroll.
Then as the car passes them, the “people” morph into dogs. Either a larger pooch about the size of a Labrador, or a little yapper about the size of a pug.
There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to whether the bison/person will change into a big dog or a little one.
Hadn’t Tried It On Other Wildlife
Sizemore said he was more amused than irritated by the glitch.
“I think the most important thing is that it shows something is up there in case the animal decides to try coming across the road,” he said.
He added that he hasn’t filed a complaint with Tesla about the AI turning bison into magically morphing people-dogs, and he doesn’t plan to.
As for how the system might depict elk, grizzlies, wolves or other Yellowstone wildlife, Sizemore said he isn’t sure, but is curious as to what the results might be.
“We haven’t had a chance to try it out with other wildlife yet,” he said.
Meanwhile, he’s confident that even with winter coming soon, his new Tesla will continue to otherwise serve him well, despite West Yellowstone’s reputation for brutal cold.
“There’s a few of them around here and they seem to do very well, even in the extreme cold,” Sizemore said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.