Close calls with self-driving cars caught on camera

- One driver wrote on his page in October of 2015 that the autopilot in his vehicle appeared to be tracking the car in front of him, but as it got farther ahead and another car approached in the oncoming traffic, his Tesla suddenly veered across the divider line and he had to quickly jerk the wheel to avoid a crash.

YouTube user RockTreeStar wrote on his page, “I post this in the hopes that it will prevent any losses to anyone using Autopilot in similar circumstances and in the sincere hope that Tesla can address the issue as soon as possible."

Another YouTube user said he knew auto pilot was for highway use only, but gave it a shot on an off-ramp - and almost swerved off the road.

Both drivers admitted to using the functions in ways Tesla warned against.

On its website, the automaker notes, “drivers must always keep their hands on the steering wheel,” but as the YouTube videos make clear, that doesn’t always happen.

Tesla Motors is now under federal investigation after a deadly crash in Florida involving a Tesla Model-S being used in autopilot mode, but lack of federal oversight could be the bigger problem.

For drivers to activate auto pilot for Tesla’s Model-S, the company simply pushed a software update, similar to updates for apps on your smartphone.

At this point, having heated seats installed in a car is treated similarly to installing a software upgrade – in terms of regulators and the industry’s view of changes being made to a vehicle. In other words, there’s little stopping an automaker from providing that upgrade.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is set to release guidance this month on automated cars.

DOT has not yet respond to a request for specifics on how Tesla’s software upgrades are inspected or regulated now, or how that could change.

 

The autopilot function is still in a beta, or trial phase, according to Tesla. That means owners are choosing to test it of their own accord. 

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