In May 2016, the owner of a Tesla Model S was killed when he put too much faith in Autopilot, Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system. Since then, there’s been plenty of talk about what makes a car self-driving and what doesn’t, and how heavily motorists should rely on this evolving technology.
In the process, two things have become clear:
- Tesla’s Autopilot isn’t fully autonomous yet, but
- Some owners are willing to push the limits of the software anyway.
As proof, consider two recent collisions in California, both of which involved Teslas in which Autopilot was allegedly engaged. The Washington Post reports:
One driver had a blood alcohol content nearly double the legal limit and a tenuous relationship with consciousness when authorities found him on the Bay Bridge. Another slammed into the back of a parked firetruck on Interstate 405 in Culver City.
But the two Tesla owners may be the first and second to add a technologically advanced new entry to the list of reckless driving excuses.
They weren’t driving, the men told the authroities. Their cars were.
According to The California Highway Patrol, the Bay Bridge driver explained that his Tesla electric vehicle “was on autopilot,” obviating the need for him to be in control of the vehicle or, well, sober.
Hello, and welcome to the brave new world.