It seems that we can’t even go a week these days without hearing about yet another Tesla crash involving the company’s Autopilot software. The latest incident comes to us by way of Texas where Model S owner Mark Molthan turned on his car’s Autopilot feature while driving down a highway during ideal weather conditions. During a bend in the road, the Model S didn’t adjust to the turn and slammed into a guard rail.
Originally reported by Bloomberg, Molthan said that in the seconds before the accident, he had just reached into his glove compartment for a piece of cloth and was cleaning his dash. So on the one hand, Molthan didn’t have his hands close to the wheel as Tesla advises drivers must do. But on the other hand, it’s strange if not downright worrisome that Molthan’s Model S got into an accident making a turn that should have presumably been elementary for the software.
What’s more, Molthan tells Bloomberg that the Model S’ behavior after the initial impact only made things worse.
“I used Autopilot all the time on that stretch of the highway,” Molthan said, “but now I feel like this is extremely dangerous. It gives you a false sense of security. I’m not ready to be a test pilot. It missed the curve and drove straight into the guardrail. The car didn’t stop — it actually continued to accelerate after the first impact into the guardrail.”
The accident thankfully wasn’t fatal but it once again calls into question whether or not Tesla’s Autopilot software is ready for primetime. Earlier this month, a driver in China posted dashcam video of his Tesla not detecting and subsequently ramming into a parked car that was sitting on the shoulder of a Beijing highway.
Also interesting is that the recent Tesla crash in Texas may raise the issue of how insurance companies will handle accidents involving self-driving car software. While Molthan has no plans to sue Tesla, Bloomberg relays that Molthan’s insurance company might.