Over the past few months, we’ve seen Tesla’s Autopilot feature dragged through the mud after a series of high profile incidents Tesla Model S vehicles getting into accidents. In one particular instance, a Model S driver in Florida was tragically killed when his car’s Autopilot software didn’t detect a tractor-trailer turning his lane.
More recently, we’ve even seen videos of Tesla’s Autopilot software failing to detect other cars on the road. Now to be fair, Tesla’s Autopilot software isn’t perfect, but it is getting better everyday. Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that we often only hear about Autopilot stories when something goes awry. In other words, we rarely, if ever, hear about Autopilot incidents where the software does its job seamlessly.
That being the case, we thought we’d highlight a recent post published on the Tesla Motors Club message board. There, a Model X owner named Mike Burrows describes how Tesla’s Autopilot software prevented him from getting into an accident.
It happened last Friday afternoon when I drove to Pocono for the weekend. I was on Autopilot driving eastbound on I-78 (a 2-lane divided highway with grass median) near Allentown, a normal traffic flow at 65-70 mph on a 55mph zone. All of a sudden, my MX braked very hard with some rapid beeping sounds, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee in front of me swing to the grass median. My MX stopped less than 2 car length away from a Toyota in front and the Cherokee definitely would have hit the Toyota if it didn’t go to the median. All these went so fast and I didn’t have time to process what exactly happened until all came to stops.
It turned out traffic came to a complete stop because of an accident on the opposite direction of I-78, and Cherokee probably didn’t notice the slow down traffic until the last minute. However, new V8.0 AP in MX spotted the Toyota in front of the Cherokee using radar and applied the hard brake. I really can’t see Toyota at all until Cherokee was out of way. If I was driving, it will definitely be too late to apply the brake and I would have rear-ended the Toyota.
Incidentally, Burrows adds that he had updated to version 8 of Tesla’s Autopilot software the previous week.