Tesla Model S Hits Barrier With Autopilot ON

Just as things were beginning to quiet down regarding Tesla’s Autopilot system and its alleged faults, this incident could add a bit more fuel to the fire.

The images were posted on reddit a few days back and according to the driver/owner of the vehicle, the car simply hit the barrier while Autopilot was in command, resulting in both the steering wheel airbag and foot area airbag going off.

This is what the driver had to say:  

“So I was driving in the left lane of a two lane highway. The car is AP1 and I’ve never had any problems until today. Autopilot was on didn’t give me a warning. It misread the road and hit the barrier. After the airbags deployed there was a bunch of smoke and my car rolled to a grinding stop. Thankfully no one was hurt and I walked away with only bruises.”

However, the car driving behind him had a dashcam and managed to capture the entire accident, revealing that right before the incident occurred, the driver failed to take control despite several warning signs indicating that there was a lane shift coming up.

In defense of the first-gen Autopilot system, those lane markings (yellow line especially) led directly into the barrier, which is very dangerous for a car designed to follow said markings.

What are your thoughts on this incident?



  • pjl35

    Take control when you’re in a freaking construction zone! Driver’s fault, not autopilot.

    • Jay

      True. Though they should have disclaimers stating do not use in construction zones. Or better yet don’t use it at all and drive your own damn car so you can blame yourself for stupid mistakes.

      • PhilMcGraw

        Doesn’t it say on the screen when using Autopilot that it’s a beta software and that you should have both hands on the steering wheel in case of failure? I’m sure it also has a lot of other legal jargon and other disclaimers as well. People just assume that it’s a faultless system and decide to let it drive the car without a second thought.

        • ro050408

          Yes, it does.

    • Six_Tymes

      yep. well said. obviously the driver isnt with it.

    • Vassilis

      Thing is, the driver trusts the system, gets in a comfort zone and stops paying so much attention. Which is a mistake arguably but it’s true. If he keeps paying as much attention as he is when driving himself there’s no point having an autonomous car.

    • diehard

      The point as I see it, is that they will be finding faults with these things in years to come, as different unforeseen scenarios arise.
      On the other hand, they’re still better then many drivers we currently have on the road. ;-))

    • John Doll

      But what if you are napping or reading a book. Isn’t that the whole idea of autopilot vehicles?

  • cooper

    With the prices so high on replacement parts for a tesla that car is probably totaled.

  • I give it another five years before “autopilot” and self driving cars are banned. Stupidest idea since someone tried to reinvent the wheel by making it square.

    • j

      I agree with you, until first accident with tragic consequences happen

      • fluffy

        We would never have built the airplane, crossed the oceans or reached the depths of the ocean with the attitude that we must stop and give up if someone gets hurt!

    • Julien Lachemoi

      I wonder if you would have said the same about autopilot in planes at the time it was launched.

      • pjl35

        That’s apples and oranges.

        • Julien Lachemoi

          Is it though ? Autopilot on car is in a way more complex because the human factor plays a far greater part than in planes but it still basically the same thing.

          • A Peck


            Good listen. He also explains that autopilot still requries ALOT of intervention

          • pjl35

            I’m not saying the concept is different, but there are so many other factors. I haven’t done the research, but I’d wager modern autopilot in aviation was a military development that crossed over into civilian territory so the systems themselves were more advanced, therefore subject to stringent regulation upfront (the opposite of the case here). Similarly, besides use in emergency situations, use of it would’ve also been subject to strict standards and protocols, likely requiring pilot attention and oversight until the systems were properly vetted after hundreds to thousands of hours of use. As you mentioned, there is a lot of added complexity in the automotive world due to the environment in which the vehicle is operated, other drivers and corresponding error, etc. If autopilot tends to fail in aviation, pilots are right there and can immediately take over, usually at a safe altitude or with warning to avoid serious accident. In the automotive world, you get this…or worse.

          • Julien Lachemoi

            I do agree human factor in cars is bound to make more trouble than it’s supposed to prevent but in the end it’s also bound to make the road a safer place.

      • gary4205

        Airplanes mostly fly miles apart in the air. Cars often drive inches apart. Completely different situations. Not comparable.

        • Status

          Planes travel at speeds no car could reach, and have superior safety ratings, all thanks to autonomous technology. You either become more efficient at driving, or give it up to a computer than I can, as I doubt someone at your age can keep doing it.

        • Julien Lachemoi

          But planes are way harder to control and even more so that they can fly in insane weather.
          Cars on the other hand are rather simplistic. I do think that computers can drive better than us on a daily basis but I also think the period where humans and autopilot starts getting along will be a steep step.

          • S3XY

            No computer can drive better than me

          • Julien Lachemoi

            But far better than the average Joe.

          • Status

            Really? Too confident to prove it?

      • Airplanes fly mostly in a straight line and miles apart from each other. There are no pedestrians, deer, pot holes, ditches, mud on the road, construction, fallen boulders, steep turns, bad weather, etc. etc, etc. Yet even flying in a straight line, above weather, pilots still have to stay vigilant and are in constant chatter with ground control, at every municipality they fly over. No pilot ever has time to take a nap, read, or watch TV while piloting which is what some autonomous drivers are doing. And this is the other half of the problem. Long drives are boring even when you are actively driving. In an autopilot car what are you going to do, just sit there and stare at the road ahead for 5 hours? That’s actually impossible. Humans can’t do that. Your mind needs to be occupied with something, and if you are at the wheel it should be occupied with driving, but in autopilot, it’s not necessary. So it is impossible to prevent people from being careless, to not daydream, read, watch TV, and in a situation like in this video you end up in a crash. And if convoys are allowed the entire convoy would crash if the lead car crashes. On the ground there are too many factors that can interfere, and no backups like a co-pilot and ground control. Essentially each plane is flown by “three” individuals even when in autopilot. Pilot, co-pilot, and ground control. Pilots also go through rigorous training, and there is great expectations on them to be attentive since they are responsible for many lives. Do car drivers have the same sense of responsibility and training when they get behind the wheel of their autonomous car?

    • Tydogg123 .

      It’ll disappear when this internet “fad” does.

    • ro050408

      Except that the accident rate is significantly lower when the cars are on autopilot compared to not. It takes away the common cause of accidents when drivers are distracted.

      • gary4205

        How would you know? Not enough of these things on the road in real world conditions, to collect meaningful data.

        However, for so few cars, there have been numerous crashes.

        It would lead one to think this technology still belongs in the lab, and on the test track, not in the hands of consumers.

        • ro050408

          1. I own a Tesla with AutoPilot and use it on highways all the time. Within a couple hundred miles, you quickly learn when you will likely need to take control and when the car is safer than a human driver..the latter of which is a majority of the time. My car has engaged emergency braking 3x now when it saw a car ahead of the car in front of me slow suddenly. All three times it happened, I could not see that vehicle that had slammed on the brakes, and the car directly in front of me had not begun braking yet.
          2. Autopilot has driven 1.3 billion miles as of November 2016, and the average accident rate is about half that when compared to number of miles driven per accident on average. That’s straight from the NHTSA investigation on the fatal Autopilot accident from last year. If that isn’t enough meaningful data, then nothing would convince you.

        • Bob

          ownd lolz… I’m sorry that was childish of me.

    • alexxx

      autopilot is here to stay…like it or not…
      no coming back from this point…

    • Status

      “Per aspera, ad astra.”

      Through hardship, the stars.

      You act like nobody crashed a car before in a construction zone.

  • Mike Powers

    Even the autopilot in a plane requires the pilot to monitor it’s operation. Autopilot does not mean stop paying attention to the road. You are the driver and you are still responsible.

    • Arminius JP

      Just so. “Autopilot” is a bad choice of name as it may mislead some users into believing a vehicle does not require human driver supervision. Perhaps renaming to something like “guided assistance aid” would help make that clearer.

      (I am impressed that the Tesla in that incident so promptly switched on its hazard warning lights.)

  • ediotsavant

    Of course, blame the car.

  • EyalN

    remind me why the government let them sell cars with this stupid system?

  • gary4205

    We need a constitutional ban on “self driving cars”!

    • Michael Cohen


      Because Human drivers are so much better, lol

      I realize the Tesla messed up, but have to admit the way the lane suddenly shifts like that with little warning is extremely dangerous.

      • salamOOn

        Actually if you pay attention to driving (and that should everybody do in a first place), instead of playing with audiosystem or phone, or being busy with your sandwich, and drive with common sense, then human is far more better driver than autopilot.
        Because human can foresee, autopilot reacts only AFTER something happened.

        • Michael Cohen

          I disagree wholeheartedly. I have seen HUMAN drivers do some of the most ridiculous, insane, and outright stupid maneuvers. It has made me even question whether we are of the same species. Traffic collisions and deaths are up in the USA at a time when vehicles are safer and more advanced than at any other time in history. I get it, people are not and never will be perfect, but guess what autonomous systems are not either, especially in these early stages. But the great thing about autonomous systems is that there is only room for improvement, I am not so sure the same can be said of Human drivers. Honestly it feels like as cars get faster, more powerful, more advanced, and smarter, human drivers get dumber.

    • Status

      If that were to happen, the US domestic automakers will have no engineering leverage on the worlds stage.

      Of course, the US will continue to have gridlocked highways and traffic delays (just right for commerce), while other countries will have ample room and no traffic (perfect for increasing exports to the US).

      A constitutional ban would economically cripple the US.

  • Shtekeris

    As cool as the feature is, I just couldn’t trust it. So, be careful and everything will be fine.

  • Nik

    Why would you buy so expensive cars and not drive it? Use bus service then

    • Status

      A bus would have less features, less room, and no privacy.

  • the driver failed to take control despite several warning signs

  • BlackPegasus

    In 2015 , 38,300 people were killed in automobile accidents in the United States. 4.4 million were seriously injured in the same year. When autonomous cars overtake those numbers then we’ll have a problem. Until then, this is a nothing sandwich. 😗

  • bxniels0

    At that speed, should the car have been able to detect the solid object head and stop (Autonomous Emergency Braking) regardless of lane guidance system that I assume was also operating? Or would that make the system too sensitive and susceptible to stopping for no reason?

  • dat

    Take a bus, a train ride, hire a chauffeur, if you don’t want to drive, just don’t use a car that auto drives itself.

  • SteersUright

    Im curious if the driver or the car made the quick save after hitting the barrier. Because if it was still the autopilot, it did a damn good job and was pretty awesome to watch.

    • Knotmyrealname

      Sounds like – and to me anyway, looks like – the driver was asleep throughout the complete incident. Seems they were completely oblivious to the changed conditions. If that is the case, then they deserved what they got. I hope the insurance doesn’t cough up.

  • Ouphh

    I dont like autopilot, but this time i have the say the fault is on the other side.
    In Europe, no way that this changing direction will be so bad marked !!
    There was no NEW COLOR LANE (at least intact), just CHAOS in marking.
    The car simply wentthe original line – was a priority more than the yellow barrier.
    maybe the cat “thought” is just the way going to tighten (narrow).
    I think also human drivers in the right lane can have a problem to change direction
    in the right moment (especially in the rain).

  • Knotmyrealname

    In today’s blameless society, it’s always someone else’s fault.

  • Knotmyrealname

    You’ll probably find that in years to come the road construction authority will be responsible to either have to notify (say) the autonomous vehicle database with a GPS location (probably simply done with the onsite engineer just holding a GPS enabled device at the point where the road condition has been changed and uploading his position) or placing a transponder on the barrier that ‘talks’ to the oncoming cars, alerting them of said changed condition. It’s just like putting a flashing light or yellow and black barrier up for our human eyes.

  • salamOOn

    “Autopilot was on didn’t give me a warning.”

    soooo, what was on your phone….. 9gag or reddit?

    stupid “autopilot” people…..next time please do not hit a human while having a nap in your car.

  • Blanka Li

    Previous car had the 1st gen autopilot (a Tesla 60). I only trusted it on a main highway driving in the middle lanes. Anything else – especially a construction zone – it was sketchy. Driver should have known better. On the flip side, the 100’s system has yet to role out in full so I have not tested it at all! SMH

  • S3XY

    F*ck Autopilot. The one thing I hate about Tesla. Most useless system to ever exist. If you need an assisted system to drive then you shouldn’t be driving in the first place. Plain and simple. Go back to lame driving school and learn how to drive.

  • S3XY

    Why’d the guy with the dash cam go around? I would have stopped behind the guy and got out

  • Cameron

    Have insurance on these damn things gone up yet? I wont be surprised if insurance raises your rates if your car has auto pilot the same as it would if your car had a v8 instead of a I4.

    • ro050408

      Why would it when there are less crashes on the cars with Autopilot than the ones without? (see above link in a prior comment)

  • Blade t


  • Astonman

    I’m cracking up reading the arguments against auto-pilot. One hundred years ago, these would be the same people that would have argued that there were no need for cars because horses would do a better job. The cars were slower than horses, when they ran out of fuel – you were stuck, and lack of sources for fuel. But the car improved didn’t it? Just in our lifetime, you see the improvements and just as auto-pilot will but exponentially faster because of the advances of cheaper and more powerful electronics. The ocean floor is lined with hundreds of thousands of boats and ships because these sailors took a chance to move humanity forward to push the boundaries that we know – we’re doing it again.

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