Following the fatal accident on May 7 in Florida USA of a Tesla Model S using the Tesla Autopilot system, the authorities Germany’s Federal Highway Research Institute conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the autopilot system. The result shows that the autopilot system is a danger to the public.
Tesla Autopilot Is Dangerous
According to Der Spiegel, an internal report of the German Ministry of Transport, Tesla Autopilot qualifies as "a significant risk to traffic and the public", because the effectiveness of the system is not exactly 100%. The Tesla Autopilot is a system of semi - autonomous driving type where drivers can do a "hands-off" sometimes and the driver can grab the wheel again anytime they want too.
The report finds that if the driving assistant is not able to solve a specific problem, the owner will not receive enough information and alert. Another point criticizing the autopilot system is the limited perception of the sensors as it didn't detect objects far back enough when overtaking another vehicle. The efficiency of automatic braking in certain circumstances was also questioned.
The German authorities are still evaluating the Autopilot system, which already has approval at the European level. Unsurprisingly, Tesla CEO Elon Musk doesn’t agree and today said in a tweet that those reports were “not actually based on science,” and repeated that “Autopilot is safer than manually driven cars.”
The Real Problem
The Tesla Autopilot is a system designed to operate in conditions of very specific movement: one - way roads with several lanes, without cross incorporations, with appropriate signage, etc. In other words, it is more suitable for fast roads like in America and that may be the reason why it failed the German test.
It is a mistake to take Tesla Autopilot as a fully autonomous driving system. The same is true in autopilot aviation: its functionality is limited, their perception of reality as well, and if handled by an untrained pilot, it would fail no matter how great the system is.
Whoever says, therefore, that the Autopilot system is a danger to road safety, should know this. What is a danger to road safety is the people delegated to a machine that is not ready to deal with all the casuistry of actual driving? Youtube is full of examples of irresponsible people who has tested Tesla Autopilot far beyond the purposes for which it was designed.
Tesla Autopilot is one of the systems most advanced in the market active safety, but must be used properly.