An Uber driver, Jon Hall, narrowly escaped a head-on collision when his Tesla’s autopilot kicked in, saving him from a car that was careening into his lane. He was driving north of Seattle on Highway 99 at about 45 mph and didn’t see the car right away because he was paying attention to a lane of stopped cars to his right, the driver explained. Before he could react or even touch the brakes, Tesla’s autopilot kicked in and stopped his car.
The driver had the audio turned off because of Washington’s laws regarding recording conversations. He said that if his audio wasn’t turned off, you would have heard him yelling as the accident almost happened. He posted the video and participated in an online discussion about what happened on Reddit, where he was asked if he would have still been driving 45 mph past a line of stopped cars if he didn’t have autopilot turned on. “A smarter autopilot (and normal human) would probably have been braking earlier, or let off the throttle at least,” the poster questioned. Hall replied that he disagreed with that assumption; he said he was driving a few miles below the speed limit and on that highway, drivers tend to drive around 55 mph.
Tesla’s autopilot system integrates aspects of self-driving while still giving the driver ultimate control of the car, Tesla’s blog explained. The autopilot as installed in the Model S helps steer within lanes, manage speed with a traffic-aware cruise control system, and changes lanes with a turn signal tap. The autopilot also can control braking, steering, and the car’s motor to avoid wrecks and to keep the car within its lane.