Much has been said about the car company Tesla and its vehicles’ revolutionary autopilot system. Videos on the internet have documented drivers literally asleep behind the wheel as their cars drove themselves. Tesla's founder, Elon Musk, has even taken his hands off the wheel while driving Teslas during numerous television interviews over the years. But while the Tesla’s autopilot system may show great promise for the future, recent serious and fatal crashes involving Tesla automobiles which had their autopilot systems engaged show that there are real risks to using autopilot.
Earlier this month, Forbes reported that the NTSB blamed the Tesla autopilot system for a 2018 crash in which a Tesla ran into a fire engine that was parked on a highway in Los Angeles. The report indicated the car’s autopilot system had been engaged for 14 minutes when the crash occurred, and that the car’s driver had not touched the steering wheel during the three minutes leading up to the crash.
Public docket opened Tuesday, for investigation of Jan. 22, 2018, Culver City, California, highway crash involving a Tesla & Culver City Fire Dept. fire truck; https://t.co/UbgF0ll9dA. Final accident brief, including probable cause, slated to publish Sept. 4, 2019.— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) September 3, 2019
“I was having a coffee and a bagel. And all I remember, that truck, and then I just saw the boom in my face and that was it,” the car’s driver told the NTSB.
Though no one was injured in that crash, others have not been so fortunate. The family of Walter Wong, a Tesla Model X owner, sued Tesla earlier this year after Wong was killed in a crash last year. Wong’s Tesla was had its autopilot system engaged at the time of the crash.