Original video, authorisation from the owner. Essential, no one could predict the accident but the radar did and acted by emergency braking. pic.twitter.com/70MySRiHGR
— Hans Noordsij (@HansNoordsij) 27 December 2016
Tesla’s Autopilot system has attracted a lot of controversy in recent months but since then, the company has introduced several software and hardware updates in an attempt to make its vehicles even more capable and more importantly, safer.
This 45-second video of an accident on the highway in the Netherlands demonstrates the enhancements Tesla have done. In it, we can clearly hear the Autopilot’s Forward Collision Warning beeping suddenly for no apparent reason.
All becomes clear when a fraction of a second later, the vehicle in front of the Model X crashes into an SUV. From where the Tesla driver was seated, the SUV wasn’t clearly visible (or the driver wasn’t looking that far ahead) but apparently it was for the Autopilot’s radar.
What’s impressive about the Autopilot system in this incident is the fact that the Forward Collision Warning alert came on before the lead vehicle even applied the brakes, indicating that the Autopilot wasn’t just locked on to the vehicle ahead of it (which didn’t appear to apply its brakes before crashing) to plan its path, but also the SUV in front of it.
The driver of the Tesla also reported that the system started braking before he could apply the brakes himself, according to Hans Noordsij, the man who reported the video. He added that everyone involved in the accident “turned out to be OK” despite the fact that the SUV rolled over.
In September, Tesla released the Autopilot 8.0 update, which places a greater reliance on radar, rather than on cameras as it has done before. The update is applicable for all Model S and Model X cars built starting October 2014.
More recently, the company announced that all its future electric vehicles will be equipped with the company’s new-generation full self-driving hardware, which will be able to offer up to Level 5 autonomy over time via over-the-air updates, starting with Autopilot 8.1.