A disturbing video of a Tesla crash on a motorway in Taiwan has surfaced raising questions about the reliability of Tesla’s autopilot system. The video clearly shows a Tesla Model 3 drive straight into an overturned truck lying on its side covering nearly two lanes of the highway. The driver of the Tesla says that the autopilot mode was on. He did not hit the brakes himself until it was far too late which implies he was perhaps not paying full attention. The video also shows a pedestrian on the side of the road (likely the driver of the lorry waiting for help to arrive and directing traffic away from the lane). He is seen startled as he jumps into the shoulder as the Tesla speeds past him and into the truck.
The incident has sparked a debate questioning Tesla’s autopilot system. Why didn’t the autopilot (that uses cameras and radar) not detect such a large obstacle on the road? Why did the emergency braking system not apply the brakes upon detecting a pedestrian who was in the lane the car was driving in? Can the use of Lidar help prevent such an accident? How much attention did the driver have on the road? And also, whether the autopilot system was on at the time as the driver claims?
Tesla autopilot system is meant to be a driver assistance system and the company maintains that the driver is required to pay attention to the road at all times. To make sure drivers are paying attention to the road, the system requires them to wiggle the steering wheel from time to time.
The alleged failure of the system is so glaring that one might wonder if the autopilot was in fact on at the time. has so far not responded to the incident. However, the video points to the driver being inattentive so it seems that the system is likely to have been on. Moreover, Tesla’s emergency braking system is generally never off unless switched off manually.
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