Earlier this year, a fatal car crash involving a Tesla model S and a road-sweeping vehicle left a 23-year-old man dead in China.
The family of victim Gao Yaning, who was killed in the accident on the highway in the province of Hebei, has sued the company, claiming the autopilot feature failed to prevent the crash. However, Tesla is not sure if the said feature was engaged at the time of the collision. Since the accident has left the car badly damaged, further investigation on the vehicle cannot be carried out.
The recently released dash-cam footage of the accident shows the vehicle smoothly moving along the side of the highway and coming extremely close to a road sweeper. But surprisingly, the car didn’t stop or even slow down, and crashed into the vehicle ahead.
The incident is now raising questions regarding the reliability of Tesla’s autopilot system. But to the company’s defense, the owner’s manual warns drivers that the system cannot detect stationery objects, and even cautions drivers to "always pay attention to the road ahead and stay prepared to take immediate corrective action."
Keeping the situation in view, it is important for people to understand that although the autopilot feature of the Tesla model S is present to assist drivers, one should not completely rely on it when in a risky situation. People must be alert when driving the car, since, understandably, the technology in the vehicle may not always work accurately and could potentially lead to disasters.
For now, Tesla has made changes to its Chinese website, clarifying the autopilot feature is not self-driving and telling drivers to avoid completely relying on it.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Beck Diefenbach