Tesla’s Autopilot software has been in the news quite a bit lately, albeit for all the wrong reasons. When word broke that a Model S with Autopilot engaged was involved in a fatal accident this past May, pundits were quick to proclaim that Tesla’s software was not yet ready for primetime. Not helping matters were subsequent crashes involving Tesla vehicles which only fueled more pessimism and concern surrounding the company’s Autopilot software.
But truth be told, the hysteria surrounding Tesla’s Autopilot software has been entirely overblown. Lost in the shuffle and completely absent from the discussion is that Tesla’s Autopilot feature actually works well when used correctly and, in fact, works to prevent accidents and save lives. The thing is, we only see Autopilot stories hit the news when something bad happens, and even then, the facts surrounding a given Autopilot failure have tended to be misleading at best.
To remedy that, Tesla owner Bobby Blackwolf took to YouTube and posted dashcam video footage which showcases how the Forward Collision Avoidance system on his Model S sprung into action and prevented him from getting into an accident. As illustrated via the video below, Blackwolf was driving down a highway when the car in front of him abruptly slammed on the brakes. Detecting an approaching obstacle ahead, the Model S signaled an alarm and prompted Blackwolf to immediately hit the brakes. As Blackwolf tells it, but for Tesla’s Autopilot software, he would have rear-ended the car in front of him.
Incidentally, the Forward Collison Avoidance system is not designed to slam on the brakes manually, but rather to alert the driver of an impending impact.
Is this proof positive that Tesla’s Autopilot software is perfect? Hardly. But it still serves as a useful reminder that we only hear about the Autopilot incidents that fail as opposed to the ones that actually prevent crashes.