Watch A Tesla On Autopilot Run A Red Light While Its Driver Does Nothing

Despite what the name might suggest, Tesla’s controversial Autopilot tech offers driver assistance and not a fully autonomous capability. But apparently nobody told that to this guy.

The video, hotly debated in the online corridors of Reddit, shows a man named Eric Dogen in a new Model 3 relying heavily on the Autopilot.

The technology’s limitations are uncovered when it fails to recognize a traffic signal and runs straight through a red light. Rather than intervening by hitting the brake pedal, the driver, who obviously sees himself more as a passenger of a self-driving car, simply lets it go right through the intersection, blaming the vehicle rather than himself (or counting his lucky stars that he didn’t get hit by cross-traffic).

It’s not the first such error we’ve seen with semi-autonomous vehicles running red lights unimpeded by human intervention. Intel’s Israeli self-driving acquisition Mobileye recently drew a measure of unfortunate attention when a prototype Ford Fusion/Mondeo equipped with its sensors did the same while cruising the streets of Jerusalem during a press demonstration, with the cameras rolling. But that was a prototype in (or as the case may be, out of) the hands of the company’s own engineers. This, on the other hand, is a production vehicle being operated by a customer in real traffic.

So who do you think is to blame in this instance: the vehicle’s manufacturer, or its driver who posted the video? Whichever side of the debate you fall on, one thing’s for sure: this isn’t the last we’ll see of this kind of controversy surrounding semi- or fully-autonomous tech in the coming years.


  • eye.surgeon

    Tesla autopilot does not recognize traffic signals at all in it’s current form. It’s specifically for use on divided highways.

    • PhilMcGraw

      I have some doubts it ever could in its current form – at least it wouldn’t have been able to stop in that video. Tesla’s front facing cameras are only pointed at about eye level, enough to recognize speed limit signs and stop signs, but they would need one facing upwards to recognize those traffic lights. Unless the traffic signal is more ahead of the car within the line of sight.

      • S3XY

        You sound like you know more about Autopilot than Tesla’s engineers

        • PhilMcGraw

          I’m not saying it’s not possible to do, but I’m merely pointing out in its current application it couldn’t do it. However, since the cameras can be changed in position during service, it is possible that they could introduce this feature.

          I’m just saying in its current application there is no camera that faces upward which would’ve been needed to stop the car in the above video. I’m not doubting it couldn’t recognize a traffic light ahead of the car, but last minute light changes would not be recognized.

          • #QAnon

            so are you a Tesla engineer?

      • Howfarr

        Where do you think current speed sign recognition cameras are located?
        Even the ones fitted to basic cars that can see signs either side of a 3 lane the highway and above the highway (gantry signs that change based on traffic and hazards)

        • PhilMcGraw

          There’s three front facing cams: one pointed directly ahead, one pointed to the right, and one pointed to the left. The ones pointed to the right and left are the ones that can recognize traffic signs, similar to what’s offered in other vehicles (such as Subaru’s Eyesight). There isn’t a camera that is facing upward on the vehicles (yet).

    • I was in driver’s seat during rush hour Tesla test drive. Things are scary and sketch as hell. No, they do not read signs. You are correct.

  • kachuks

    Doesn’t matter who is to blame. What matters is liability in case of a crash.

    • D3X

      Send it to the local police department, there’s enough evidence here to get at least a Ticket and a court appearance.

  • Jay

    Was the driver supposed to slam on the brakes in the middle of the street? Risk getting T-boned? It if was clear I would’ve let it ride through. The damage was already done and if there were a traffic cam I’d send the ticket to Tesla.

    • Holmer_k

      And they would laugh at you and refer you to the terms of service agreement you were forced to sign to have the feature to begin with.

      • Jay

        The line where is says you may die because the system is still in beta is the best part!

    • PhilMcGraw

      “Similar to the autopilot function in airplanes, you need to maintain control and responsibility of your vehicle while enjoying the convenience of Autopilot in Model __”

      This is literally what Tesla pops up and displays to the driver. I cannot believe you think that Tesla would be responsible for people not reading the terms and conditions of the feature.

      Also “both hands should be on the wheel at all times” is also mentioned in there.

      • Jay

        I wasn’t being serious and I doubt I’d ever use autonomous driving features.

    • Mr. EP9

      He should have stopped the car before it got to the intersection.

      • Jay

        Agreed but it comes to a point where you’d still think the car would realize the light was read and assume it would stop in time. Like how the other folks assumed they’d still be alive while using Teslas autopilot..

  • Six_Tymes

    “While Its Driver Does Nothing”

    why didn’t he notice the car wasn’t slowing for a red light and apply the breaks BEFORE the intersection?

  • baofe

    That’s not how this works, that not how any of this works

  • Mr. EP9

    And this is why I’ve seen Tesla drivers get ripped on repeatedly when it comes to autopilot. Seriously, how hard is it to keep your hands on the steering wheel and pay attention? If you can’t do that, you should be operating a vehicle at all.

  • S3XY

    Lol. really

  • pcurve

    wow, that’s the worst up-down vote ratio I’ve seen

  • Craig

    I bet that MOST people would assume that ‘AutoPilot’ [Or whatever it happens to be called in whatever car they are driving] is FAR more capable – FAR more ABLE – to ‘take over’ the driving of the car than it actually is. And THAT’S the problem.

    • Vassilis

      And who is to blame for that?

      • Craig

        Those who make it. That’s how the world works.

    • brn

      Early autopilot systems in airplanes did nothing more than maintain a course. Tesla’s system does more than that. Why people assume it means the vehicle will address all situations is beyond me.

  • Howfarr

    Idiots are to blame

  • Knotmyrealname

    Stupid is as stupid does.

  • salamOOn

    #if you trust your overhyped cruise control and do nothing

  • Arthur Burnside

    It should be obvious that the driivng environment is not in any way standardized, which is what would be required for any autonomous driving system to work reliably. Calling their system an “Autopilot” is pure BS – it operates in no way like an autopilot in an airplane does. It is junk, pure Tesla hype from the ever-unreliable Elon Musk, perhaps the dumbest CEO on the planet. You should read the elementary school logic he employs in defending the Autopilot, right before he releases yet another set of bug fixes for the Autopilot software. Those “updates” mean the clueless software engineers at Tesla found yet another lethal error. Musk braggs about the updates!!! What a
    sleazy moron.

    • brn

      How does autopilot work on an airplane? Early airplane autopilot did nothing more than maintain a course. It was less sophisticated than what the tesla system does.

  • Enter Ranting

    I’m more annoyed by the vertical video format. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?!

  • David Kale

    That’s autopilot human mode. It tries to be imperfect from time to time and gives a rider human-like driving experience. “I can beat that traffic light!” “Oh, snap! I missed it!” “Hope no cops are around.” 🙂

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