Autopilot is a system implemented by Tesla Motors Inc that works as a blind driving assistant. It uses radars and sensors to react to risks on the road but recently two severe accidents, one of them fatal, put the system under the scope of criticism since allegedly Autopilot was controlling the vehicle when the crash happened.

Tesla Motors responded to these situations stating that Autopilot was not designed to completely replace the human driver of the vehicle but instead, it’s a system that aims to simply assist the driving process. Actually, Autopilot can not be activated without the order of  the user.

Credit: Air Facts Journal

About the accidents

The fatal crash was in Florida when a tractor-trailer turned left in front of a Tesla vehicle, a model S, that had the autopilot mode activated.  Joshua Brown, the driver of the Tesla vehicle died.  Brown was a tech enthusiast who had a Youtube channel about his experience with Tesla.

“Neither Autopilot nor the driver notices the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied,” Tesla agents said in a press release, who declared it was a terrible loss.

The second car crash happened on Sunday near Cardwell, Montana, where a Model X crash with wooden rails in a two-lane road.

The U.S. government is now investigating the autopilot mode. This is the first fatality recorded when autopilot has been used by Tesla vehicles in more than 100 million miles.

The system has the ability to take complete control of the vehicle

Tesla Motors Inc designs and manufactures electric vehicles and works with a system that aims to maximize the use of sustainable energy, removing the variability from variable power sources. Currently, the company works with three models: S, X and 3.  Autopilot works with all those models and is able to regulate direction and speed, and it can even park the car and take the vehicle out of the garage. The system has the ability to take complete control of the vehicle if the driver decides it.

The driver must activate the system pushing a button since Autopilot never starts when the vehicle is turned on. Also, the Autopilot system is still under testing process, so the driver must enhance the terms and conditions of the use of this mechanism. The driver has the responsibility to keep his or her attention while Autopilot is working, according to Tesla.

Autopilot is not the only brand of driving assistance

Other industries and manufacturers of modern vehicles use technologies similar to Autopilot, like Pilot Assist and Acura MDX, used in the Volvo S90,  is also able to control speed and direction, and keeping the car inside the proper lane is the main goal.

Ford, Nissan, and Mercedes-Benz have been working as well with systems of driving assistance and even Google is working on building software and technology for vehicles with autopilot systems.
Source: BBC