That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?
There are a lot of good things to be said about the Tesla Model 3. We had some wheel time and came away quite impressed but this recently shot video clearly shows there’s a bit more work needed in the safety technology department. In short, this guy’s Model 3 ran a red light while in autopilot, according to the driver. Clearly, that’s not good for a whole host of reasons.
On the plus side, once Tesla gets wind of the issue, if it hasn’t already, the remedy will very likely be an over-the-air update. Still though, this guy was pretty lucky nothing serious happened. You know, like a crash. Traffic lights exist for very good reasons. But was Autopilot the real problem? Was it the driver's fault? We'll get back to that shortly.
Another question pops to mind: what if there was a police officer right there and decided to pull the owner over for running a red light? Who should the owner blame? Himself? The car? Tesla as a whole? We’re willing to bet that imaginary police officer wouldn’t accept any excuse and issue him a hefty ticket on the spot. We're not there yet, but what happens when a self-driving car, surrounding by other non- and other self-driving vehicles, violates basic traffic laws? Something for autonomous carmakers to start thinking about.
So, where does the blame lie? An owner who simply decided to make use of the technology they purchased or the automaker itself who built and sold the vehicle and its software? Would a video such as this one be enough to exonerate an owner in traffic court?
But how does Tesla's Autopilot system work, exactly? It's a semi-autonomous system which, according to Elon Musk, can help reduce accidents by up to 50 percent. The system itself is comprised of multiple sensors located all around the vehicle. These sensors are constantly studying the car's surrounding environment so that, if necessary, can steer the car away from a dangerous situation. In total, these sensors can sense 16 feet around the car in every direction, regardless of speed. However, it's important to note the system is intended for highway use only. The driver in the video above was using it in traffic. Is that problematic? Yes. Tesla claims the system is not capable (yet) of stopping at traffic lights. Should the driver have known this in advance? Yes. Was it reckless of him to use the system in traffic instead of the highway? Probably. The result? Well, he ran a red light. Enough said.