A man in a Tesla Model S took a video of his car slamming into the back of a van while it was on autopilot mode, according to Electrek.
The video has since been made private, but it shows the dangers of relying on Tesla’s still-developing self-driving capabilities. The feature the man was using at the time is called Autosteer, according to Fusion, which uses the car’s sensors to keep it driving safely during traffic.
The collision occurred when the van pulled to the side and put its hazards on and another car the sensors were tracking did not stop. The Tesla doesn’t appear to be totaled, but the video creator says much of the front of the car will have to be replaced.
Tesla has warned against people relying on the autopilot features too heavily, though they typically work, and the Tesla owner manual explains why they need to be aware at all times.
“Traffic-Aware Cruise Control can not detect all objects and may not brake/decelerate for stationary vehicles, especially in situations when you are driving over 50 mph (80 km/h) and a vehicle you are following moves out of your driving path and a stationary vehicle or object, bicycle, or pedestrian is in front of you instead. Always pay attention to the road ahead and stay prepared to take immediate corrective action. Depending on Traffic-Aware Cruise Control to avoid a collision can result in serious injury or death. In addition, Traffic-Aware Cruise Control may react to vehicles or objects that either do not exist or are not in the lane of travel, causing Model S to slow down unnecessarily or inappropriately.”
To the contrary, another recent viral video seems to show Tesla’s autopilot is working just fine. A video surfaced on Sunday showing what appears to be a man sleeping while Tesla’s autopilot drives him down a highway in California.
As has now been explained, it is not recommended that drivers let the Tesla autopilot take control without paying attention and being ready to grab the wheel, but there were no accidents related to this incident.
Tesla is aware of the video, and the company made a statement to Motor Trend after it was released.
“Tesla Autopilot is designed to provide a hands-on experience to give drivers more confidence behind the wheel, increase their safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable,” a representative wrote. “Autopilot is by far the most advanced such system on the road, but it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility.”
Tesla is working on making its cars completely self-driving, but the technology has not been finished yet. That said, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has high hopes for self-driving car technology.
“People may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous,” Musk said at the GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California, in 2015. “You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.”
Musk later expressed on Twitter that he doesn’t personally want to outlaw people driving their own cars, but he said he the public may decide to outlaw it when they see how much safer self-driving cars can be, according to the Huffington Post.
The self-driving car world is becoming more competitive, with recent news like Toyota’s investment in Uber and the companies’ shared interests in self-driving car technology. Another ride-sharing technology company, Lyft, has also started researching self-driving cars and has received major auto industry investments.
As these videos show, Tesla’s autopilot capabilities can either go perfectly fine or terribly wrong, so it’s best to be aware until fully capable self-driving cars become available.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]