With Tesla Autopilot, Your Car Avoids Accidents Before They Happen

December 31, 2016 5:00 am
Tesla's Autopilot Helps Your Car Avoid Accidents Before They Happen
(Courtesy of Tesla)
Tesla Autopilot


A short while after moving to upstate New York, I was out on the highway in the evening, doing 65 in a loaner Subaru Outback. Out of nowhere, a car flew through the air from the other side of the highway, landing upside down in the middle of my lane, maybe two or three car-lengths away from me. It soon caught fire.

I remember braking as slowly as I could and looking into my rear-view at all the other bewildered drivers, who had hit their brakes behind me, too. We had all narrowly escaped a major accident—or possibly, worse. (It turned out that a driver, who had been out of my line of sight up the road, hadn’t made it.)

It’s those types of situations that Tesla is looking to completely erase from the roadway with its latest Tesla Autopilot software update. Now on version 8.0, Tesla Autopilot—which obviously only works if you’re driving a Tesla automobile—uses, according to the company website, “the Tesla’s onboard radar to persistently capture snapshots of its surroundings, creating a 3-D picture of the world.”

In other words, with Tesla Autopilot, the car literally feeds itself a real-time image of the world. It can then read and analyze this image in cases of impending collision or when there are large obstacles in the road. 

Tesla Autopilot
A Tesla Model X (Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)


It’s some pretty pie-in-the-sky-type tech, no? But how do we know that it’s actually functional? There is now video evidence. Not too long ago, a Model X owner uploaded a dashcam video of his car reacting to a scenario similar to the one I was in. The Tesla Autopilot in the man’s car responded to an SUV two cars ahead of him braking suddenly, slowing his car down to a stop and helping him avoid an impending crash.

Luckily, no one was injured in the wreck ahead of the Tesla driver. But it makes you wonder what a world might look like if every car were armed to the teeth with Tesla Autopilot. It also made me think about that car and driver ahead of me. Maybe I wouldn’t even have written that anecdote above.

Below, watch the man’s amazing dashcam video.

—Will Levith for RealClearLife

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