- On Friday, Tesla revealed that the Model X driver who was killed in an accident in California had activated Autopilot before the crash.
- A pair of YouTube videos from other Tesla drivers shed light on what may have caused the Model X to drive into a highway barrier.
- The videos reveal how Autopilot can become confused by faded lane markings.
On Friday, Tesla revealed that the Model X driver who was killed in an accident in California had activated Autopilot before the crash. While Tesla emphasized that the driver received multiple warnings to put his hands on the wheel before the accident, a pair of YouTube videos from other Tesla drivers shed light on what may have caused the Model X to drive into a highway barrier.
One video shows a Model S driving through the same segment of the highway where the crash occurred with Autopilot activated. As the road approaches the barrier, a new lane marking indicates that drivers need to veer right if they want to stay on the road.
But the new lane marking is more faded than the prior left-hand lane marker, which becomes the right-hand lane marker for a ramp that allows drivers to exit to a new road. In Autopilot, the Model S does not recognize the new lane marker and continues to use the old lane marker, which would lead it into the barrier.
Both videos show the limitations of Autopilot. While the software’s Autosteer feature can keep a vehicle in its lane on the highway, it does so by reading the lane markings on either side of it. If a lane marking has faded, it’s more difficult for the vehicle to recognize it, and if the faded lane marking is close to one that’s more prominent, the vehicle may assume the more prominent marking is the one to follow.
The videos also emphasize Tesla’s point that Autopilot is not a fully autonomous system and should not be treated as one. Business Insider’s Matthew DeBord came to the same conclusion after testing the Autopilot system in multiple Tesla vehicles.
While self-driving cars will become a reality at some point, that future is further away than some drivers may realize.