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Wild video shows a Tesla Model 3 on Autopilot crashing into a truck

Published Jun 1st, 2020 6:11PM EDT
Tesla Crash
Image: David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock

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  • A Tesla Model 3 on Autopilot recently crashed into a stationary truck on a highway in Taiwan.
  • The Tesla crash was captured on video
  • The Model 3 driver was uninjured.

Video released over the weekend shows a Tesla Model 3 on Autopilot crashing into a truck that had fallen on its side. The incident took place on a highway in Taiwan and footage of the crash — which was obtained via nearby security cameras — has since gone viral. The Model 3 driver, it’s worth noting, emerged unscathed, which is a testament to Tesla’s impressive safety features.

As you’ll see below, the crash video is jarring for a few reasons. For starters, the Model 3 made absolutely no effort to brake before hitting the truck. For reasons we’ll get into shortly, it appears that the Autopilot software simply didn’t recognize there was an obstacle ahead.

Second, it’s mind-boggling that the Model 3 driver himself didn’t notice the truck in front of him. For at least a good 10 seconds, if not more, the driver was seemingly preoccupied with something else. This, of course, is contrary to all of the instructions that accompany Tesla’s Autopilot feature. After a number of high-profile crashes, Tesla has since hammered home the fact that Autopilot is not a replacement for paying attention to the road.

The full video can be viewed below:

As to the cause of the crash, it’s not surprising that the top of the truck — which the Tesla rammed into — was white. A few years ago, you might recall a deadly Tesla crash where a Model S hit a white tractor trailer in Florida. Though the Model S driver was not paying attention at the time of the crash, an investigation by Tesla revealed that the company’s Autopilot sensors couldn’t discern the white truck from the bright surrounding sky.

Tesla at the time noted: “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”

Over the past few years, there’s no denying that Tesla’s Autopilot feature has improved by leaps and bounds. And when the technology works as intended, it can almost feel like magic. Still, there’s no denying that the technology still has a few shortcomings which make it abundantly clear that we’re still nowhere close to achieving Level 5 autonomy.

You might recall that Elon Musk back in 2016 promised that a Tesla would drive from Los Angeles to New York City on its own sometime in 2018. The planned demo was then pushed back to 2019.

“I think [Autopilot] will be feature complete full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, and take you all the way to your destination without an intervention this year,” Musk said in 2019. “I would say that I am certain of that. That is not a question mark.”

Of course, we’re now about halfway through 2020 and there’s no indication that such a demonstration will happen anytime soon.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.