A wise man once said, “Modern problems require modern solutions.”
Want to scroll through Instagram reels while driving? Don’t have time for breakfast because you have to drive to your office? Want to survive a drive while you’re fully intoxicated? There is only one solution to all your problems. Or is there?
In recent years, electric cars have been seen as a savior of the environment. Tesla, the Elon Musk led company offers futuristic electric cars which many people think are the perfect solution for the questions asked above. Tesla’s autopilot system is a driving assistance tool designed to make driving safer and more efficient. It a package of several safety and convenience features including cruise control, lane keeping and automatic emergency braking. Although such features can help the car go a few miles without driver intervention, the same is never recommended.
There have been several instances where drivers have depended on these features way too much and lost their lives. A victim of such an accident had sued Tesla and blamed the Musk led company for her damages. However, in a recent court proceeding, Tesla has come out victorious and the jury reached the conclusion that the automobile brand was not responsible.
Credits: Team BHP
Although the system was designed to make driving safer, there have been numerous accidents caused due to people using Tesla autopilot leading to safety concerns. The system uses numerous cameras, radars and ultrasonic sensors which are mounted on the cars to assist the autonomous driving features. People often forget that Tesla autopilot is not a fully autonomous system. While it can drive and steer the car by itself, it still requires human assistance to drive. Some users of Tesla have become over reliant on these features causing numerous car crashes around the world.
Previous Autopilot accidents and Tesla’s response:
In 2016, a Tesla Model S user crashed his car on a tractor trailer and died. Further investigations into the accident revealed that he was using the Autopilot feature of the car. At another instance, a Tesla Model X driver crashed into a concrete barrier in California and lost his life. He too become a victim of the Autopilot feature.
Keeping these incidents in mind, Tesla has changed some of its autopilot features to ensure user safety but these changes did not stop the toll of such incidents. The company also introduced a system which alerts the driver if he appears to have lost focus.
Arguments against the system:
Critics of the autopilot system have argued that Tesla provides a false sense of security with such features and that drivers would have been safer if they did not have these features in their vehicle in the first place. They have cited the numerous accidents that occurred while autopilot was activated and have concluded that the system is not developed enough.
In 2020, Justine Hsu, a resident of Los Angeles was involved in a fatal car crash due to which she sustained multiple injuries. She was driving a Tesla with the autopilot turned on while the crash occured. The lawsuit alleged that while she was driving on a highway, the vehicle swerved and hit a concrete guard at the side of the highway. She also claimed that the airbag in her car did not turn up smoothly and led to a fracture in her jaw. In response to the lawsuit, Tesla claimed that customer safety was their top most priority. They also highlighted that there were millions of users of the feature who were absolutely safe. On Friday April 21st, the jury gave a decision in Tesla’s support and have not awarded any funds to Justine. Tesla’s share price went up by 1.3% after the case ended in their favor.