We’ve seen a few accidents involving Tesla’s Autopilot feature. When they occur, the company suggests the user was using it in ways it wasn’t intended or didn’t follow guidance given by the Autopilot feature. You can read how the company touts the feature on its website.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to the company is proclaiming this as giving the owner an autonomous vehicle. I had thought as I read articles about crashes that the driver likely was in error and using the feature in an unintended way. After reading the website, I think I may have come to the wrong conclusion. Here’s the top section of the Tesla website introducing the Autopilot feature.
Full Self-Driving Hardware on All Cars
All Tesla vehicles produced in our factory, including Model 3, have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.
I don’t see anything ambiguous about Tesla’s claim.
According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, the driver of the Tesla that crashed in Mountain View, California, on March 23, 2018, ignored warnings that could have prevented a very serious crash that killed the driver:
“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla said. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”
Interestingly, the driver had experienced difficulty with the particular freeway interchange in the past, had taken the vehicle in for service for this problem, yet relied on the Autopilot feature anyway and ignored the warnings. As Einstein offers, “Insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Why the driver ignored the warnings is between him and God at this point.
Tesla must feel it has no product liability as the feature issued warnings to the driver that were ignored. Autonomous vehicles are still in their infancy. Early adopters need to be especially cautious.
Thought for the week:
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” – Charles Darwin
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Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, blogger and author based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner has focused on making the complex simple around people, process and technology. He can be reached through his website, www.DaveGardner.biz, or via phone at +1 408-475-7068.