This could've ended in disaster.
The risks and merits of Tesla's Autopilot safety technology continue to be debated ferociously. Just days ago, the driver of a Tesla Model Y claimed that Autopilot wasresponsible for a severe crash, in what appeared to be another instance of over-reliance on the semi-autonomous system. This follows Elon Musk accusing some Tesla owners of misusing Autopilot last year.
The back-and-forth will rage on, but in a new Twitter video, we can see first-hand evidence of Autopilot's ability to avoid what could have been a serious collision. The video was posted by a Twitter user calling himself 'Jballer', who drives a Model 3.
In the clip, we can see Model 3 driving along the highway in the left lane, while a BMW X5 driver traveling much faster comes up behind him. The Model 3 did not appear to be going too slowly, as it was passing slower cars in the middle lane at the time.
What the X5 driver did next could have ended in catastrophe if the Tesla driver were in another vehicle: the BMW came up behind the Tesla, aggressively started passing the Tesla in the middle lane, but then veered back into the left lane before getting fully ahead of the Model 3. The Tesla's Autopilot system reacted instantly by turning the Tesla onto the shoulder - which was free of obstructions at the time, thank goodness - successfully avoiding a collision.
It's unclear whether the BMW driver was inattentive, inebriated, or just plain crazy to have been driving that quickly, before almost intentionally driving the Tesla off the road. At these speeds, even minor contact between two vehicles can see one or both drivers totally lose control. On a crowded highway especially, that rarely ends well.
The Model 3's various cameras allowed the full scene to be captured from various angles, affirming how quickly the Autopilot system did its job. In recent times, Tesla's Autopilot - one of the top semi-autonomous driver systems in the business - has been surpassed by Cadillac's Super Cruise tech. This latest crash-averting maneuver, though, serves as a reminder that when paired with an attentive driver, Autopilot can save lives.