“Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents.”

“A Utah woman who in May 2018 crashed her Tesla Model S into a fire engine while having the Autopilot assist mode engaged has now sued the company in state court, claiming negligence, among other allegations.” A spokesman for Tesla says the company “has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents.” [Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica]

4 Comments

  • My 2018 Subaru Outback has a “keep lane assist” feature.

    If the car veers to the right third of the lane, it steers the car left.
    If the car veers to the left third of the lane, it steers the car right.

    If I leave driving to cruise-control and keep-lane-assist, the car feels like a ping-pong ball as it veers back and forth through the center of the lane. This (very effectively) discourages relying 100% on the feature to “auto drive”. But it may prevent accidents due to fatigue or inattention during long freeway trips.

    I’m certain Subaru could have adjusted the feature to keep the car consistently in the center of the lane. They appear to have chosen to keep the feature minimal, both in functionality and name.

    • If I leave driving to cruise-control and keep-lane-assist, the car feels like a ping-pong ball as it veers back and forth through the center of the lane. This (very effectively) discourages relying 100% on the feature to “auto drive”. But it may prevent accidents due to fatigue or inattention during long freeway trips.

      Bouns in the case of fatique, the ping-pong effect may wake a driver who zoned out/dozed off due to fatigue.

    • My Accord has something similar. It fights you if I try to change lanes without using the blinker. It was kind of scary the first few times the car cuts to one side or another if it thought I was drifting out of my lane. It would pull the wheel out of my hands if I didn’t have a good grip on it.

      I’ve tried it in an “autopilot” type mode just to see what happens. Completely let go of the wheel but warnings start flashing and the wheel shakes until you actively steer again. It’s fun to play with but no way would I trust it.

  • Did she read the Owners Manual? The operator is required to monitor the vehicle’s operations at all times when the Enhanced Autopilot feature is engaged. (suits like this almost make you long for the return of common law doctrines such as contributory negligence and assumption of risk).

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