Is Tesla’s Autopilot Responsible For Yet Another Accident?
Are we too trusting of new technology?by Robert Moore, on
It seems like Tesla has been taking blow after blow lately. It hasn’t even been a week since reports started surfacing of the fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S, and now it looks like another serious crash has occurred while Autopilot was engaged on a Tesla Model X. According to the Detroit Free Press Albert Scaglione – an art dealer out of Southfield, MI – and his son-in-law, Tim Yanke, were cruising down a Pennsylvania highway with Autopilot engaged when the Model X hit a guardrail, bounced off of a concrete median, rolled onto its roof, and came to a stop on the opposite side of the highway.
Fortunately, the accident wasn’t fatal, and both passengers of the Model X walked away from the accident unharmed. There was reportedly some damage to a 2013 Infiniti G37 from the scattering of debris during the accident, but all passengers in that vehicle were unharmed as well. According to the report, neither passenger of the totaled Model X were available for comment, but Dale Vukovich of the Pennsylvania State Police reported that Scaglione claims to have activated the Autopilot feature of the Model X prior to the accident.
Apparently, there isn’t enough evidence to indicate that the Autopilot malfunctioned, but Tesla has yet to weigh in on this specific incident, and more details could come to light if Tesla takes the time to investigate the accident. According to the Detroit Free Press, the driver of the Model X will likely be cited once investigation of the accident is complete. So, what’s the deal with Tesla’s Autopilot these days?
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Why it Matters
One side of me wants to feel bad for Tesla after all this negative publicity lately, but the other side of me just wants to laugh because this kind of stuff is what happens with you do public beta testing. Fortunately, nobody was injured in this accident, but it could have just as easily been another fatal accident. The stretch of highway where this accident happened is apparently a tight area with small shoulders, but I think it probably goes without saying that, in this case, the driver wasn’t paying attention. If he were watching the road, as he is supposed to do when using Autopilot, he would have noticed the car starting to veer off to the side of the road. That said, I hope Tesla investigates this accident as well, as I’m curious to hear what the automaker has to say.
It’s surely just coincidence that this accident has occurred just days after news of the fatal accident with the Model S went public, but I hope it is still an eye opener for all Tesla owners. To put it simply, Autopilot isn’t perfect. When you focus your attention away from the road, you’re putting yourself and others on the road at risk. So just stop – if you’re going to use Autopilot, watch the road.
Before I sign off here, the nerd in me also has something to say. We’ve seen plenty of science-fiction movies where technology or vehicles revolt against humans. Movies like iRobert, Maximum Overdrive, and Terminator are all prime examples. I’m simply joking here, but maybe Tesla’s Autopilot system is smarter than we think and is simply weeding out all of the idiots who refuse to follow the rules of using the Autopilot feature. I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but who knows what can happen in the future. All joking aside, I think it is amazing that both passengers of the Model X walked away from this rollover accident. Sure, it could be attributed to luck, but I think it speaks volumes for how well the passengers were protected during the accident.
Read our full review on the Tesla Model X here.