Electric Cars

Tesla owner recreates fatal Autopilot crash, nearly crashes as well

It shouldn't need to be said, but don't try this at home. Just don't.

Last month, a Tesla owner died in California after his vehicle contacted a concrete K-rail at speed. Yesterday, another owner tried to recreate the scenario, and it very nearly caused another accident.

The video above shows a Model S owner with the latest version of its semi-autonomous Autopilot hardware (version 2.5) driving down a Chicago highway. A single lane splits into two, and instead of following either lane correctly, the Autopilot system treated a right-side line as a left-side one, pointing the vehicle squarely at the barrier. The owner was able to stop the vehicle in time, as he was paying attention. The only warning that appeared on his dashboard prior to retaking control was a request to hold onto the steering wheel. There did not appear to be any warning related to the crash barrier coming up in front of the vehicle.

It should be noted that Autopilot has never been a true substitute for human attention. Driver vigilance is required at all times, and the vehicle will emit multiple warnings when it's time to hand driving back to a human. Tesla reported last week that Autopilot was engaged during the California incident and that the driver did not appear to attempt to retake control. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating.

While the driver shouldn't be praised for filming his vehicle while trying to recreate a fatal accident, the video reinforces the point that vigilance is still absolutely necessary when using semi-autonomous hardware.

(Hat tip to Electrek!)

Update, April 3: Amended text for clarity, and to reflect that this video was taken in Chicago, not Indiana.