Tesla Model S Crashes Into A Barrier, Was Autopilot At Fault?

Tesla’s Model S is in the news again, and this time, it is because of pictures posted on Reddit showing the car hitting a barrier while on Autopilot. The driver was, fortunately, unharmed and able to climb out of the vehicle with only bruises.

Image Source: Reddit (screenshot)

The story behind the crash

The Tesla Model S was driving on a divided highway in Grapevine, Texas before hitting a barrier that closed off the lane, in which the car was traveling.

In a Reddit post, the driver noted that he was driving in the left lane of a two-lane highway and has not faced any issues with the car’s AP1 (first generation Autopilot) until now.

“Autopilot was on and didn’t give me a warning. It misread the road and hit the barrier. After the airbags deployed there was a bunch of smoke and my car rolled to a grinding stop. Thankfully no one was hurt and I walked away with only bruises,” the driver said.

This is not the first accident involving Tesla’s Autopilot, but the company has been improving it regularly. In September, the EV firm updated the system to rely more on radar sensors and less on cameras. CEO Elon Musk has promised to deliver a fully-autonomous car that can drive from Los Angeles to New York “without the need for a single touch” by 2017.

Who was at fault? Tesla Autopilot or the driver?

Although the driver blamed Autopilot for the accident in his Reddit post, the video posted by the driver following the Tesla during the incident suggests something different. The video clip shows the car driving on a road that is apparently under construction. The Model S is not able to recognize the sharp angle of the construction barrier and keeps on driving in the direction where the road would have originally gone, resulting in a crash, notes BGR.

It does seem like Autopilot did nothing to prevent the accident, but it cannot be ignored that the Autopilot technology is not set up to be completely autonomous yet. Thus, the driver should have been monitoring the car’s actions. From time to time, Tesla has warned drivers that they should be very careful while driving on Autopilot and keep both hands on the steering wheel.

Electrek’s Fred Lambert notes that the video shows that the car needed to change or merge lanes in order to avoid the barrier, and this is not something Autopilot should be allowed to do without the driver’s help.