After the fatal accident involving a Uber autonomous car, a new thump for the initiative of vehicles capable of moving alone: a Tesla model being driven by the “Autopilot” mode, hit the concrete partition at a fork in the morning of March 23 and unveiled last Friday, 30. The only occupant of the car died after being admitted to the hospital.
The model in question is the SUV Model X. It is described as “semi-automatic,” because although the Tesla offers the unattended steering feature, it directs drivers to stay tuned at all times to correct a possible error of the machine. As seen with the crash with a Uber car, the system seems far from perfect because humans are easily distracted when they see themselves in a safety situation offered by a stand-alone vehicle that works without fail for 99.9% of the time.
In a post on Tesla’s blog, the company confirms that the Autopilot mode was activated at the time of the accident, but that the driver ignored several warnings warning him to keep his hands on the wheel and eyes on the runway. The data collected by the company say that the occupant was warned to put his hands on the wheel six seconds before impact, and that before the accident he had 150 meters of vision without any obstruction; previously he had also received other visual and auditory alerts.
The company always hits the key that the technology is turned to assistance, not to replace the human direction completely, with the information even being presented in the manual of the car, placing in the driver the responsibility of driving responsibly.
That said, there are indications that Tesla’s technology is not yet ready enough for the streets. The manual also warns that the car is not very good at recognizing static objects on the track, just like a concrete partition at a fork. The reason for this is that the system is designed to discard data from stationary objects to prevent false alarms that cause the vehicle to divert its route through something like a litter bin on the sidewalk. In the past, a Tesla car crashed into a fire truck stopped because of it.
The accident is also being investigated by US authorities, but early reports of the case may take several months to get released.