Model S

Tesla Autopilot Emergency Braking Saves Driver from Head-on Collision

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Tesla Autopilot saved John Hall and his Tesla from a nasty crash in traffic on a dark, rainy road on October 28. The system worked exactly as advertised.

A dark road with lots of traffic. Rain makes for poor visibility. Suddenly, an oncoming car turns directly in your path. Under ordinary circumstances, a collision would result, but not this time. Your Tesla Autopilot senses the danger and brings your car to a halt, then proceeds when the road ahead is clear. No drama. No police reports. No insurance claims. And no one hurt.

Every year, more than two thirds of all accidents are attributed to driver error, or what the British like to call “injudicious action.” In a video posted by YouTube user John Hall, an oncoming vehicle is seen veering in front of hisTesla, nearly missing a head-on collision, before making a sharp turn onto a side street. And all of it was caught on the BlackVue dash cam.

The Model S is seen coming to an abrupt halt thanks to the new Tesla Autopilot Automatic Emergency Braking capability as part of the Collision Avoidance Assist suite of features. According to the driver who posted his account of what happened, “Was traveling a little under 45 mph. There was some rain, but roads were pretty dry. I was watching stopped traffic to my right. I did not touch the brake. Car did all the work.”

A recent report from the UK which examined traffic accident data going back to 2005, the 10 most common causes of motor vehicle collisions are:

  • Failed to look properly 35%
  • Failed to judge other persons’s path or speed 18.9%
  • Careless, reckless or in a hurry 16.2%
  • Loss of control 14.7%
  • Poor turn or maneuver 14.1%
  • Traveling too fast for the conditions 10.2%
  • Slippery road due to weather 10.1%
  • Pedestrian failed to look properly 7.2%
  • Sudden braking 7.2%
  • Following too close 6.7%

The authors of the British report summarize their findings this way. “What this [data] tells us is that human error is far more likely to be the cause of a car crash than the road environment or a defective vehicle. This is regardless of what type of road the accident happened on or at what time.”

As Elon Musk has said with regard to the Autopilot suite, it is always alert, never gets tired, never has fights with colleagues or family members and never has too much to drink. Plus, every Tesla with Autopilot enabled is part of a global learning network that shares its data with every other car. Once one car knows something, every other Tesla will know it as well.

The internet has been filled with videos lately that purport to show Autopilot malfunctioning, but John Hall’s video shows the system works precisely as advertised — fortunately for him and his Tesla.

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