Tesla Autopilot, one of the brand’s most lauded technologies that allows the vehicle to drive autonomously under certain situations, may have been responsible for many more road accidents than previously estimated. New data exposes concerning statistics: Tesla Autopilot has been involved in 736 crashes in the United States since 2019. 17 of those were deadly, and 11 have died since May 2022.
The disturbing findings were discovered in a Washington Post investigation of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data. Even though the data does not indicate how many incidents Tesla’s driver assistance capabilities may have prevented, the new crash stats highlight potential risks of autonomous driving, at least at this level of research.
According to the analysis, the increase in accidents may be attributable to the removal of radar – radio detection and ranging – from Tesla vehicles. The brand declared in 2021 that it will only use camera-based vision processing. Every Tesla is equipped with eight external cameras to map its surroundings.
According to the NHTSA, there are several current investigations using the technology because to the recent increase in crashes. Meanwhile, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has consistently emphasised the benefits of Autopilot.
Although the NHTSA data does not capture the specific details of the collision. It is unknown whether users had the Autopilot or FSD turned on in any situations. There are reportedly 800,000 Teslas with Autopilot on US roads, and Tesla is pressing forward with its further development and wider implementation.
Every Tesla comes standard with Autopilot features including adaptive cruise control, which matches the speed of traffic ahead of time and accelerates or brakes according on the conditions. Auto steer, in which the car assists in steering on clearly marked lanes, is also standard equipment.
Furthermore, Teslas can be outfitted with Enhanced Autopilot functionality, which allows the vehicle to navigate roads autonomously and change lanes on its own, among other things. The Full-Self Driving (FSD) suite, which allows the car to make active decisions based on traffic sign recognition, is also available to buyers.
Tesla explicitly states on its website that the aforementioned features do not fully automate its vehicles:
The NHTSA announced in February 2023 that Tesla would recall 360,000 vehicles equipped with FSD beta owing to the higher risk of collisions. Despite various reports about the Autopilot’s performance. According to Tesla’s car Safety report for Q4 2022, 35% of all Autopilot crashes occur when the car is rear-ended by another vehicle. According to Tesla, one autopilot accident occurs per 4.8 million miles driven.
However, it would be hard to validate Tesla’s assertions unless it released the data it possessed. For the time being, NHTSA data indicates that Tesla vehicles were involved in the vast majority of the 807 autopilot-related incidents since 2021.
What are your thoughts on self-driving cars? Should Tesla use other technologies such as radar and lidar instead of just cameras? Please share your ideas in the comments section.