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Tesla’s ‘Self-Driving’ Autopilot almost sends car into an oncoming tram, driver claims

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·3 min read
Tesla’s ‘Self-Driving’ Autopilot almost sends car into an oncoming tram, driver claims
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A Tesla Model 3 appears to have almost driven its owner into an oncoming tram while using its ‘Full Self-Driving’ mode.

A video from the Beta Tech OG YouTube channel shows the Model 3 driving through the streets of Denver, Colorado. The Model 3 stops at a red light with its left turn signal on.

The car should have waited until it was clear to turn after the light turned green, but instead started moving to make the turn. The Autopilot display on the infotainment screen recognises the tram; it is unclear why the driving system attempted to make the turn. In the video, the driver of the tram blared their horn to alert the driver of its presence.

“My car would have just smacked into that tram. I’m going to send that over to Tesla, but that is not OK,” the driver says.

Tesla, which has disbanded its PR operations, did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

Despite its name, Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ is not an autopilot system nor is it capable of driving itself, but rather a driver assistance program where the user must remain capable of always taking back control of the vehicle.

Tesla’s self-driving capabilities have been called into question repeatedly; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that from July of last year through 15 May, vehicles using Autopilot, “Full Self-Driving," Traffic Aware Cruise Control, or other driver-assist systems were in 273 crashes.

Tesla has about 830,000 vehicles with the systems on the road, giving it the highest ratio of crashes to self-driving vehicles. The next automaker with the highest was Honda.

Honda reported 90 crashes using driver assisted systems, but Honda says it has about six million vehicles on roads in the United States. Subaru was next with 10, and all other automakers reported five or fewer.

Elon Musk has claimed that accidents cannot be the fault of Tesla, as data it extracted shows that Autopilot is not active in collisions. However, the NHTSA has said that it found 16 instances where Autopilot “aborted vehicle control less than one second prior to the first impact”.

In a recent interview, Mr Musk said that Tesla’s value is based on whether it can develop self-driving technology.

Mr Musk added that the feature was “essential. It’s really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money or worth basically zero”.

The company has also had a “very tough quarter” according to leaked emails from the chief executive.

Mr Musk has consistently missed self-set deadlines on self-driving technology. In 2019, he said that he was "certain" that Teslas "will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention” – even doubling down on the prediction by stating: "That is not a question mark”.

In 2021, Mr Musk made the claim again – saying that Teslas would become fully autonomous by 2022.

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