Tesla is noted for rolling out advanced features, and it’s been at the forefront of self-driving cars, debuting an Autopilot mode as a more advanced form of cruise control. It’s supposedly so good that if you get stuck in traffic, you can grab a nap. But like any technology, once it gets into the wild, there are going to be problems, and Tesla’s Autopilot is looking more and more like a bad idea. Especially with two crashes already under its hood.
Unfortunately, the first crash was a fatal one. According to authorities, a Tesla in autopilot was unable to realize that a tractor trailer was making a left-hand turn, due to the trailer being reflective and an “overly bright sky.” The collision sheared off the roof of the vehicle and the car traveled for another hundred feet before stopping.
The second crash was thankfully less tragic, but it’s pretty scary nonetheless. Apparently, soon after the driver put the car in autopilot, it clipped a guardrail and went across several lanes of traffic, overturning and winding up on the roof in the median. No one was killed, but it could have gone wrong in an instant. It’s not clear precisely what caused the crash, and there’s not enough evidence to conclude that the autopilot malfunctioned.
That said, it’s pretty easy to take this as proof of the axiom that if you invent something foolproof, a better fool is already in the works. Self-driving cars are still very much in the testing stage, so before you flip on Autopilot, keep that in mind.