It has traveled over 130 million miles while being tested in some 70,000 vehicles all over the world, but is it safe? The Tesla autopilot feature has its fair share of critics. However, most of its critics didn’t have much to complain about until May 7th. On that day, a Tesla Model S crashed while in autopilot mode. Now, the government is turning the auto industry upside down because of it.
Is Tesla’s Autopilot Feature Defective?
The auto industry plans to roll out autonomous vehicles to the public within the next few years. General Motors plans to have a partial-autonomous drive feature on one of its new Cadillac models next year. And Google is planning to release its autonomous driving cars sometime in 2020. That means the future is now, and driverless cars are coming at us full throttle. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is pumping the brakes.
NHTSA has worries about the safety of autonomous vehicles, and the Tesla autopilot crash didn’t help. That crash marked the first autonomous vehicle related fatality in history, and it has the feds on guard. Preliminary reports don’t look good for Tesla. NHTSA says that the car was going 9 mph over the speed limit of 65 when it crashed, and the company itself isn’t quite sure what happened.
Appearing before a senate inquiry, Tesla officials claimed that the accident wasn’t the fault of its autopilot feature. The company narrowed the cause of the crash down to two possibilities. Either the car’s braking system didn’t detect a tractor trailer due to a bright sky, or the system thought the trailer was an overhead road sign. The Tesla braking system is programmed to ignore overhead signs to prevent false braking incidents.
Could one of these explanations really be the cause of the Tesla autopilot crash? Did Tesla screw up the programming on its automatic braking feature and not autopilot? Is there really a difference? Keep checking back with our blog to learn about the latest developments in this case.