Would you keep using Autopilot after the fatal accident ?

Would you keep using Autopilot after the fatal accident ?

Tesla cars are great, but would you still feel comfortable keep using autopilot after the fatal accident in Florida. I think this is bound to happen, its just a matter of when.

compchat | June 30, 2016

Who are you ? Have you ever driven a Tesla ? Neither the driver nor the now dead pasanger noticed trailer:

“Neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”

Also this man had a habit of allowing the car to drive itself with his hands off the wheel which is specifically prohibited (see the video he posted). The feature in the car is known as "autopilot" not autonomous!

Ultimately it was the fault of the tractor driver and circumstances which the car is not designed to handle.

BTW I still feel totally comfortable with the proper use of autopilot. | June 30, 2016

@compchat Thanks for clarifying. Autopilot is not perfect right now, but I think Tesla will improve it (significantly) in the future.

EVRider | July 1, 2016

No, the accident won't impact my use of autopilot. If the driver didn't see the truck as reported, either he would have hit it anyway if he wasn't using autopilot, or he wasn't watching the road while using autopilot and should have been.

SCCRENDO | July 1, 2016

@Trent. I have a classic MS non autopilot but have had autopilot as a loaner. It is an amazing technology but not perfect. You have to remain behind the wheel, with your hand on the wheel concentrating the whole time. I had the cruise set to 80 with a large gap ahead and someone cut in front. Some red light alarm came on and I had to slam on brakes otherwise there would have been a collision. The ultimate responsibility remains with the driver. In this unfortunate case the driver and the autopilot failed to see the truck.

eddeppman | July 1, 2016

I just read that this tragic accident occurred on US 27. In Florida, US 27 also goes by the name of "Bloody 27"... It is used by a lot of truckers (US 27 runs down the middle of Florida) who want to avoid the tolls on the Florida Turnpike. Many horrible accidents over the years...

Jcollins | July 1, 2016

I use my autosteer frequently and understood its limitations from the beginning. I consider it a "must use" on any long trip and feel safer because of it. Fatal accidents are tragic and my condolences go to the family. It doesn't change my attitude about my Tesla and autosteer.

emaurer1 | July 1, 2016

When the car sensors are combined with Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADSB) transponders which are going to be required on all aircraft (and airport ground vehicles) by 2020, the car will have much better situational awareness. The economies of scale should make the price of these technologies come down exponentially like they did for EZPASS type transponders. This ADSB installed on vehicles will be required for the mix of older and newer semi-autonomous vehicles. The good news is the standards and technology have been refined in the aerospace realm and could be spun off to vehicles with minimal R&D costs.

yongliangzhu68 | July 1, 2016 Would you keep driving a car if you know almost 100 people a day died in auto accidents in the US?

skip8jones | July 1, 2016

I always keep the fact that this system does not relieve me of the responsibility of handling the car in all situations. I have been using it in an MS since the end of March and the fact of the unfortunate collision sited above, I will not deter me from using the AP/TACC systems because, while not fool proof, I feel it improves my ability to drive safely whether on a freeway or surface street. It is especially useful in stop and go situations and provides driver relief from the tedium of such times.

zanegler | July 1, 2016

In any accident investigation, there is virtually always a primary and then secondary causes. In the case of a vehicle turning left into the path of an oncoming car, that is ALWAYS the primary cause. Even if the other vehicle is speeding, which I am not saying is the case, that would be a secondary factor.

It would have been great if the autopilot could have saved this person from the illegal and unsafe left turn the other driver made, but there may not have been time for man or machine to avoid this accident.

Driving is easily the most dangerous thing most of us do. Tesla is still the safest car ever tested, but it is not capable of preventing every traffic fatality.

My condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

PXChanel | July 1, 2016

I didn't purchase Autopilot on my MX bc I didn't think I would use that technology in the Beta phase it is in. It it improves significantly, I could always add it. The name is misleading since it sounds like planes' autopilot, which is different than terrestial vehicles' autopilot. it should be called Driver Assist or something else. I have mentione on these boards the study on autopilot simulation by Stanford I heard on NOR in 2015. The results showed that when autopilot failed, the majority of subjects were asleep and unable to react to take control of vehicle.

sp_tesla | July 1, 2016

Yes, currently it's a very useful super sophisticated Cruise control upgrade.

MitchP85D | July 1, 2016

I used my auto-pilot going home from work this morning after a night shift. I am fatigued after a night shift and auto-pilot is great for taking the stress of driving off me in traffic. The Tesla will notice slowing traffic ahead of me before I will while driving home after working all night. In heavy Houston traffic, I just stay in the same lane and put the auto-pilot on. I can't tell you how much of a stress relief this is while driving home after a night shift. I will always use this feature while I have it. When tesla tells me to put my hands on the steering wheel, I do. Then I take my hands off. I get these reminders about every 3-5 minutes. No big deal. Pretty good thing Tesla does that to keep you alert and not completely dependent on the auto-pilot.

davediep | July 1, 2016

My auto pilot is my second pairs of eyes on the road. So, yes I definitely use auto pilot, especially on long trip.

Tesla-David | July 1, 2016

I traded my 2013 S85 MS in for S85D last year to get Autopilot and AWD. While I am saddened by the recent death in Florida, I will continue to use Autopilot, which really is an asset on long trips. I accept its limitations, and will always make sure to pay attention to the road ahead and have my hands near the wheel when driving with Autopilot on.

dyefrog | July 2, 2016

Unfortunately the media and general public tend to focus on the bad news rather that the good. This is a perfect example of glomming on to bash Tesla for any reason. Not to dismiss the tragedy but what you don't hear about is the many lives that "probably" have been saved or at least avoided serious injury(no, I don't have any links-purely conjecture) because of auto-pilot. As many have pointed out in this thread and others on the topic, when properly used, it will be safer in probably all situations (again, no links). The Florida tragedy is somewhat an anomaly with the perfect storm of conditions where the autopilot was not effective in avoiding the accident. There's no way to prevent that from ever happening. What would be a great counterbalance to this topic would be the many first person accounts of how auto-pilot probably did save the day. I would be interested to see if those real life experiences ever make it to print in the spirit of honest and balanced reporting.

Sluggo | July 2, 2016

"I think this is bound to happen, its just a matter of when." So you are inferring the accident is the fault of auto pilot? I have a model S and a model X both with autopilot. I feel MUCH safer using AP than not. I'm still the driver and it's up to me to be aware and alert regardless. The deceased driver is at fault, not AP. Next question.

yongliangzhu68 | July 2, 2016

dyefrog: Actually it is sensationalism and playing on irrational fear (it's the same reason terrorism works). For instance how many stories diid you read about the OTHER 90 Americans that died that same day in auto accidents? How about the other 90 that dies today or the 90 tomorrow?

If it was announced that an average of 9 Americans would die each day in autonomous cars people would 'flip out' and demand they not be used even though that would be about a 90% reduction in traffic deaths. IRRATIONAL FEAR

JPPTM | July 2, 2016

I drive a May 2013 S85 (no TACC, or even folding mirrors, PDC, or all of the newfangled stuff), and my wife has a June 2015 S70D with TACC/autopilot. I really appreciate what TACC/Autopilot has to offer, and use it when I am driving her car. It however is not a direct replacement for an awake, alert, unimpaired, trained and licensed driver, just as the autopilot system on modern aircraft is not. When relieved of the minute of driving within my lane at a set speed on a highway (...note--highway, not divided road or city thoroughfare), I find that I drive better and have more overall situational awareness.

JPPTM | July 2, 2016

I drive a May 2013 S85 (no TACC, or even folding mirrors, PDC, or all of the newfangled stuff), and my wife has a June 2015 S70D with TACC/autopilot. I really appreciate what TACC/Autopilot has to offer, and use it when I am driving her car. It however is not a direct replacement for an awake, alert, unimpaired, trained and licensed driver, just as the autopilot system on modern aircraft is not. When relieved of the minute of driving within my lane at a set speed on a highway (...note--highway, not divided road or city thoroughfare), I find that I drive better and have more overall situational awareness.

SUN 2 DRV | July 2, 2016

"The deceased driver is at fault, not AP."

I agree completely.... but IMHO the real issue is how to best avoid being seduced into complacency.

Personally I don't like the idea of being out of the control loop but being responsible for control none the less.

With Cruise control it still required my full to steer. So I still had to be involved in controlling the car 100% of the time. With AP the driver is still responsible but it's waaaay to easy to get distracted. I TEXTing driver at least knows he can only avert their attention for a few second, AP enables drivers to be distracted for tens of seconds.

So from one PoV AP enables worse behavior than TESTing while driving. Yes, of course the driver is still responsible but AP is seducing the driver into acting otherwise.....

Not Tesla's fault, but still an obvious consequence of human nature...

Al1 | July 2, 2016

It is really sad that a very simple defensive tool applied to trucks in Europe for 22 years can't make it into the US and this failure is causing dozens of people dye every year due to this exact type of collision.

treehugger com cars tesla-driver-killed-autopilot-crash-would-still-be-alive-if-trailers-had-side-underride-guards.html

Silver2K | July 3, 2016


I don't have autopilot, but I would use it if I had a Prius type vehicle.
I don't buy high end sports cars to be self-driven.

lilbean | July 3, 2016

AP should be required for some drivers.

Al1 | July 3, 2016

Absolutely! Because if I die this is the only tool to prove what has really happened which can counter the lies spread out by the survived truck driver.

rhpalmer | July 3, 2016

Autopilot is a wonderful tool for keeping you sane when you are driving on a road with a lot of congestion / stop go traffic.

Remnant | July 4, 2016

@ lilbean (July 3, 2016)

<< AP should be required for some drivers. >>

Good point; compulsive texters come to mind.

However, safer AP won't mean a hands-off-the-wheel eyes-off-the-road ride before we have AP-ready roads and trailers, that is with AP-adequate signage and other tools, such as emitters of driver-alerting alarms.

Until then, the driver's alertness and intervention readiness will be required accompaniments of any AP.

charles_gingras | July 4, 2016

I won't get autopilot until it's level 4 (and I had decided that even before the accident), I'm an all-or-nothing guy.

rent-a-tesla_ch | July 4, 2016

well well well... thats just a verry good exepl of not understanding driving, cars and tools...

1) The exident did not happen BECOUSE of the AP. But its bad he did not evoud it :(
2) You all (sorry most) think the software sould do the work for you....


It can and alway be only an assist... Helpfull makes it saver but still can't ceap up with your brain!
(***OK some times it would be nice if.....***) :) :) :)

It always goes the rong way if you think SAFTY FIRST but realy think it should do your work...

I Missing the eye controll for the driving person... Hands on weel... well but more needed is eyes on street. I think some cars have it as a sleep controll... not working good jet. My mobile has it...

gregm | July 4, 2016

I learned the first day I had to watch autopilot. On the bride coming home from picking up my Tesla in Fremont I did a left lane change. For some reason autopilot did not see the rail dividing the lanes and continued left. At the last possible second I took over and swerved, my daughter screaming, missing the rail. Otherwise I would have lost my Tesla within hours of picking it up. That said autopilot has performed flawlessly sense. You must stay in an active roll even with autopilot. I think autopilot is safer than not using it. After all, how many times a day does a driver make a potential fatal error but lucky there were no other vehicles or rails near by.

rent-a-tesla_ch | July 4, 2016

@gregm exactly

I personetly think that tesla mad a mger mistak naming it auto pilot. Sounds good but never will be. Driver assist would better work for it. Not becouse it doesent work well, it never can be a autopilot as we alle know it from a plane. (And by the way... they can't do have of the tesla AP feachers)
I say yes next time the ystem should be able to avould such an exident by braking. But after this the next 3 special situations will come up...
For me it works perfekt in a swiss highway traffic. It realy saves my nerfs and makes me relaxing.
I do not pay attantion if I have stop and go (yes I know...) I let the car do it. But if I drive faster I have my eyes on the traffic.

Jeff Hudson | July 4, 2016

Absolutely, but because I've read the Owners Manual and like living I choose to only use it on long inter-city stretches of Interstate driving.

risingsun | July 4, 2016

It's nice and important that autopilot gets better with time. Tesla is collecting a lot of data and correcting/realizing a lot of errors.

Brian H | July 6, 2016


ram1901 | July 6, 2016

AutoPilot is basically cruise control on steroids AND like cruise control, you should always be ready to take control as the screen in the car and the Tesla owners manual states.

Before my Tesla, I used cruise control as often as possible on non-ap cars, and now I use AP as often as possible.
I keep one hand touching the wheel, my foot ready to hit the brakes and my eyes on the road.
It's an amazing feature.

allweathermaint | July 8, 2016

I work as an aircraft mechanic in Alaska for the largest air taxi in the U.S. Most of the pilots here prefer having an A/P over a co-pilot simply because it does one thing without distraction. Fly the airplane. This frees up the pilots mental bandwidth for situational awareness. When this system fails it typically does a few different things, namely it won't hold a steady course or altitude. Kind of wanders. Rarely does it give an un-commanded departure from a selected altitude or heading, but it does happen. I imagine the amount of concentration required to monitor A/P use is still just a fraction of whats required to compared to the nearly constant decisions and actions needed to fly (or drive) a vehicle. Autopilot makes it possible for operators to refocus there attention to having a greater awareness of the overall situation. Anyone who fails to take advantage of that just doesn't get it...
My only concern is, will young drivers 10 years from now still have the same driving skill that we do now, simply because A/P use will cut back the amount of experiance people gain? Should A/P use be restricted from new drivers for that reason?

eztider | July 8, 2016

Yes, I have no problem using the autopilot, judiciously. Before I retired I was an airline pilot. I could use the autopilot to land the airplane if I wanted. But it was more fun to hand fly the airplane to touchdown. Same with the Tesla. I bought it because I wanted to drive it, not sit back and watch it drive itself. For me the autopilot is useful is some situations and gets in the way of the fun in others.