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How Safe Is Autopilot?


According to their website Tesla’s Autopilot feature is to assist [ with the most burdensome parts of driving. It’s “advanced safety and convenience” features are said to ease the driver while making decisions behind the wheel. However, the features do not make the vehicle autonomous, again as outlined on the site. So what is happening when drivers find themselves, and their vehicles, a story on the national news because of another wreck where autopilot is suggested to be the blame? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating thirteen crashes involving these vehicles. The agency does believe that the current autopilot system may to be to blame, at least partially. Many of these crashes happen when the driver seems to be distracted in some way or another and is under the assumption that the autopilot feature of the vehicle will indeed work to maneuver the in safest way possible. One driver notably stated to police after a crash that he believed the autopilot that he enabled would operate the vehicle safely while he looked around to watch his dog, also in the car. This crash didn’t end in serious injuries but it adds to the list of accidents involving Tesla models and the autopilot system in them. As noted on t he company official website under the subject, “ the company does officially state that “current autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” The NHTSA has also reported that the autopilot systems are not autonomous and that drivers need to pay attention at all times, in one report the agency even referred to the lack of supervision by drivers as “automation complacency.” Of the thirteen crashes the NHTSA is currently investigating involving Tesla vehicles so far only one of the cases is on record to involve the autopilot feature.

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