Recently, in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, a video captures a Tesla Model Y with autopilot capabilities involved in a deadly car accident in which the self-driving car appears to go on a rampage, hitting and killing pedestrians.
Watch the video below (warning: the video contains graphic content).
The video shows the Tesla attempting to park before it unexpectedly accelerates at a very high speed, swerving between lanes and swiping vehicles and pedestrians.
The car appears to accelerate to near-highway speeds as it hits one bicyclist, narrowly dodges many other pedestrians, and eventually slams into the side of a truck. The event left two dead, including a young high school girl. The family of the driver claims that there were issues with the brakes that caused the accident.
There has been speculation on social media that the accident could’ve been caused by the autopilot of the car, although these claims are unproven. Some claim the autopilot was attempting to park itself, when it went awry and dangerously sped off.
HOWEVER, this claim has been scrutinized because the swerving and the rapid acceleration seen in the video are not typical driving patterns of autopilot, causing many to deny these accusations.
Furthermore, the autopilot and acceleration could’ve been prevented with the tap of the brake. Regardless, this is not quelling the speculation on social media.
According to Tesla, the vehicle logs show that the brake pedal was not applied during the incident, rather the accelerator was pressed for the majority of the video. Supporting this theory, the video never shows the brake lights illuminate until almost 30 seconds after the rampage begins. Therefore, a possible conclusion is that this was entirely a driver error, where the individual driving the Tesla mistook the brake pedal for the gas pedal.
Although, there have been other significant reports of Tesla brake failure as an unhappy customer last year staged a protest at Tesla’s Shanghai Motor Show booth over similar accusations. The incident drew much criticism toward Tesla.
This is also not the first time there have been questions over the involvement of the Tesla autopilot in fatal car accidents.
A high-profile 2019 car accident in California is set to begin trial soon, where the driver had the autopilot engaged in a Tesla Model S when it ran a red light killing two people in an ensuing car accident. Critics claim the autopilot in Teslas has contributed to fatal car accidents through error as well as making drivers inattentive.
This raises the issue of what degree autopilot would be responsible for car accidents in what is a legal gray area at this point. Would it all be attributed to driver error or would it be the fault of the machine?
Especially, in a case, like the one mentioned above, where it seems as if it was the autopilot’s fault for failing to recognize a red light.
Tesla responded to the incident in Guangdong, stating they would be assisting Chinese police in investigating the deadly crash. “Police are currently seeking a third-party appraisal agency to identify the truth behind this accident and we will actively provide any necessary assistance,” the company said.
Featured Image is a screenshot from the embedded Youtube video.
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