Tesla’s Autopilot gets into the headlines every time an Autopiloted vehicle crashes, and given Autopilot’s seeming love for stationary emergency vehicles, those headlines have been coming thick and fast lately. The negative coverage has irked billionaire CEO and actually-it’s-about-ethics-in-automotive-journalism truther Elon Musk, who says that because Autopilot is reportedly better than human drivers (who, in fairness, do suck), Autopilot doesn’t warrant all this media attention.
Well, today Elon can rest happy, because it’s his sort of Autopilot story making waves. Music producer and proud Tesla owner Anton Zaslavski, better known as Zedd, shared his Autopilot story on Twitter last night.
“There’s lots of “bad” news about Teslas w/ autopilot crashing,” Zedd wrote. “Just to show the other side too: I once fell asleep driving home late at night on the highway (w/ autopilot on) and got woken up by it beeping + turning off music to wake me up. Would have prob been dead without it.”
Obviously, Autopilot isn’t designed to be used by sleepy drivers, since according to Tesla’s manual, a driver has to be behind the wheel, attentive, and ready to take over at any moment. But like any other driver-assist technology, many of Autopilot’s safety features help mitigate problems if the human screws up, in this case by driving when exhausted.
Audible and visual alerts when the car senses the driver is inattentive isn’t a Tesla-only thing, and in this case, Autopilot’s intervention was limited to turning itself off. This story could have taken place in a Volvo, or a Toyota, or a GM equipped with Super Cruise, but that’s not the important thing. The message here is that autonomous technology isn’t just a matter of convenience; in some cases, it can also save lives. Of course, in order to measure how effective it is, we need more data, and if Musk is really concerned about making sure people understand Autopilot, some more facts on its use and safety record would be good.