A new YouTube video shows the limitations of Tesla’s Autopilot and why their cars keep getting into accidents.
It seems almost every major carmaker is hellbent on developing a self-driving car. Many cars today come with adaptive cruise control and lane keeping technology so that at times it seems like the car can really drive itself already. Tesla’s Autopilot is easily the most advanced suite of self-driving features to date—to the point where many Tesla drivers really do believe the car can drive itself.
But it can’t, and we get examples of just how dangerous believing it can almost every month. And a new video by UK-based Thatcham Research proves just how easy Autopilot can be fooled.
Thatcham Research is a non-profit group established by the British auto insurance industry in the late ‘60s. Their goal is to improve public safety and thus prevent accidents (and insurance claims, but they’re a non-profit so they can’t come out and say it like that). Their latest video addresses “driver-assist” technologies and stresses the dangers of being over-reliant on such technology.
Their first example hits the Tesla Model S and Autopilot, showing just how easily the Autopilot can plunge the driver into an accident. The test involves two real cars and one inflatable. The Tesla has autopilot engaged and is following the first car—just like on a highway. Everything is fine until the first car swerves out of the way to avoid a parked car (as can sometimes happen on a highway). The Tesla doesn’t have enough time to brake and slams into the parked vehicle.
Had the Tesla driver been paying attention they might have noticed the parked car ahead and braked in time, but relying on Autopilot means the driver will crash into that parked car every time.
This is just one situation that Autopilot fails, but we know there are many others. There’s the Tesla Model X that crashed into a center median back in March, killing the driver. The Model S that crashed into a fire truck in Utah in May, and a Model S that crashed into a parked police cruiser in California.
Tesla maintains that Autopilot does not replace the driver and that the driver must always have their hands on the wheel ready to take over. This video proves that they’re not kidding.
We’re heading towards a future of driverless cars, but we’re not quite there yet.