Tesla has slowly become one of the biggest American car makers, and one way it’s done that has been by putting some high tech stuff in its cars. Teslas are very advanced, and each Tesla comes with a lot of smart features. That said, not even Tesla’s Autopilot system can prevent crashes from happening if the driver is distracted.
The Tesla Model X crash that happened due to video games
According to Car Complaints, in 2018, a man named Walter Huang was killed in California while he was driving his Tesla Model X. That said, he wasn’t actually driving the car. The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, conducted an investigation into the crash, and it found that Huang was using his Tesla’s Autopilot feature when the crash occurred.
Tesla tells its owners that they should still pay attention to the road when using Autopilot, but Huang apparently didn’t do that. Instead, the NTSB said that Huang was playing a game on his phone while his Model X’s Autopilot was set to go at 75 MPH on the highway. While Autopilot was engaged, his car decided to steer into a damaged crash attenuator, which is a device that’s used to reduce the impact of crashes.
The NTSB said that, for a lot of reasons, which include the weather, the Model X’s smart safety features, such as its automatic emergency braking system, failed to engage. The NTSB also said that Huang had about 5.9 seconds to respond to this issue, but because he was gaming, he failed to do so, too. His Tesla crashed into the crash attenuator, which, because it was damaged, didn’t do its job. This high-speed crash was ultimately fatal to Huang.
Everyone’s a little at fault
This tragic accident was caused by a perfect storm of issues, so it’s impossible to blame one thing for it. Car Complaints even reported that the NTSB blamed Tesla, the driver, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and California officials for this crash. For example, Car Complaints said that Huang had actually complained about his Tesla steering into a crash attenuator before, so he was aware of this issue.
However, he also failed to follow the rules of the road, as he was distracted by his phone. That said, at the same time, the Model X shouldn’t be steering itself into stuff. Of course, the NTSB found that the Model X’s failures were caused by a bunch of other environmental conditions, too.
Furthermore, the California Highway Patrol was also blamed as they failed to report the damaged crash attenuator to the appropriate officials. Those officials, in turn, failed to fix that attenuator in time. Overall though, this accident is another example of why Tesla’s Autopilot isn’t a true autopilot system.
Autopilot isn’t really autopilot
While Tesla calls its semi-autonomous self-driving feature Autopilot, it’s not a true autopilot system as this crash, as well as others, will show. In terms of self-driving cars, there are six levels of them, with level zero being absolutely no self-driving features whatsoever.
Tesla’s Autopilot system is only level two as it can increase and decrease speed, and in certain situations, it can steer too. However, that’s still three levels away from being a fully self-driving car. As a result, it’s not truthful to call Tesla’s Autopilot a self-driving feature, since the car can still make a lot of mistakes.
That’s not to say that Autopilot isn’t a step in the right direction, but it is to say that people shouldn’t rely on self-driving features just yet. As Car Complaints said, there are no cars on the road that are truly self-driving. So, until an automaker makes one, it’s still important to stay alert while behind the wheel.