A Tesla driver using an autopilot system crashed into a motorcyclist and killed him, prompting an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Tesla sells a lot of electric vehicles, and all of them are equipped with an autopilot system as standard. The autonomous driving system is capable of performing a number of functions, such as lane change, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control. With these features, the Tesla electric car can stay in its lane and avoid collisions by adapting its speed to the vehicle moving ahead.
In addition to the basic autopilot, Tesla cars can also be equipped with a paid full self-driving system (FSD). This is a more advanced autonomous driving technology that includes all the autopilot functions and much more. Tesla electric vehicles equipped with FSD can automatically drive on city roads, detect traffic lights and respond to them accordingly. However, the main problem with FSD technology is that it is in beta testing, which means that all its features are still being tested and require improvements before they can be deployed to the general public.
The reliability of these autonomous driving systems, including autopilot, is put to the test whenever a fatal accident occurs. A Tesla electric car crashed into a motorcyclist while driving along southern Interstate 15 in Utah around 1 a.m. on July 24 (via The Verge). According to the State Department of Public Safety, the 34-year-old Harley Davidson driver died immediately after falling to the ground. The Tesla driver stayed at the crime scene and called the authorities after the accident. When the accident occurred, the Tesla autopilot was activated, but, according to authorities, the driver did not see the motorcyclist.
Tesla Autopilot Has Come under Scrutiny Again
NHTSA has added the latest autopilot-related accident to its list of Special Accident Investigations (SCI), which looks in more detail at issues related to autonomous driving systems. As of July 26, 2022, the list includes 48 accidents, 39 of which involved Tesla electric vehicles, as a result of which 19 people were killed. In addition, NHTSA is also investigating 16 accidents in which a Tesla EV electric car with autopilot crashed into a standing ambulance. An update on this investigation also suggests that federal authorities are reportedly in the final stages of recalling Tesla vehicles.
It is reported that companies such as Nvidia are working to solve this particular problem related to autonomous vehicles. In addition, according to NHTSA, in 2021, the number of road accidents as a whole increased by 10 percent. According to the data, 42,915 people died in 2021, compared with 38,824 who died in 2020.
Although the Tesla Autopilot system has improved over the years, and the company’s FSD beta can be considered a level 4 or 5 driving technology, the track record makes them a bit unreliable. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the autopilot system makes driving generally safer, but the resulting deaths seem to suggest that reality is a little more complicated. Whatever the case, autonomous driving features from Tesla and other automakers must go through a rigorous regulatory process or testing process to better meet the tough driving needs of the real world.