A Tesla Model S was involved in a crash in Beijing earlier this week, with yet another driver blaming Autopilot. This is the first alleged Autopilot crash in China, but when you watch the video, it’s amazing it happened at all.
In the video from CarNewsChina, you can see that the Tesla was moving quite slowly when a disabled Santana on the left comes into view, about 100 feet after a warning triangle. The car in front of the Tesla had no issue scooting over in its lane to make room. The driver of the Tesla, for some reason, made no such move.
It all seems fairly avoidable to me.
The driver, Luo Zhen, was reported to have his hands off the wheel and had Autopilot engaged, reports ChinaDaily. It reports Luo to have seen the Santana with the naked eye and that there was a reaction time of about five seconds, but the system didn’t see the disabled car and crashed into it.
Luo said that after the crash, he had to manually stop the car because “otherwise it would have kept going, as if it had just hit a speed bump.”
The accident cost him 50,000 yuan ($7,525) in repairs. However, “believing there are technical bugs in the system of Autopilot, Luo said Tesla should take half of the responsibility, while the other half should be paid by the Santana’s driver for illegal parking.” He criticized Tesla for exaggerating the abilities of the Autopilot functions while only giving scant warning that it’s an assistance system and shouldn’t be fully relied upon.
Conversely, here are some snippets from the Tesla Autopilot Software Version 7.0 Press Kit:
Today’s update increases the driver’s confidence behind the wheel with features to help the car avoid hazards and reduce the driver’s workload. While Model S can’t make traffic disappear, it can make it a lot easier, safer, and more pleasant to endure.
Autosteer keeps the car in the current lane and engages Traffic-Aware Cruise Control to maintain the car’s speed. Using a variety of measures including steering angle, steering rate and speed to determine the appropriate operation AutoSteer assists the driver on the road, making the driving experience easier.
Tesla requires drivers to remain engaged and aware when Autosteer is enabled. Drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel.
Side Collision Warning further enhances Model S’s active safety capabilities by sensing range and alerting drivers to objects, such as cars, that are too close to the side of Model S. When the car detects an object close to its side, fluid lines will radiate from the Model S image in the Instrument Panel to alert the driver.
In China, it is illegal to operate a car without your hands on the wheel.
Luo is considering suing Tesla, but hasn’t made up his mind yet. Currently, there is no law in China that states who should be responsible in a self-driving car incident.
It is unconfirmed whether Luo was driving with Autopilot engaged. We have reached out to Tesla for a statement regarding this matter.