Tesla driver blames Autopilot for fender bender caught on dashcam

Autopilot accident china

You might remember when we reported on a Tesla Model S driver in Switzerland publishing a video of his car crashing into a van after the vehicle Tesla’s Autopilot was following swerve halfway off his lane to pass a van on the side of the road.

Now a very similar accident happened in China and the Model S driver also caught the fender bender on his dashcam.

Weibo user ‘Qunar_大羅纳尔多‘ shared the dashcam footage of the accident and pictures of the aftermath (embedded below) on the popular Chinese social network.

He says that he was driving his new Tesla Model S on the highway north of Beijing when the accident happened on Tuesday night.

Exactly like the accident in Switzerland, the Model S was in the left lane on the highway in heavy traffic, and when in traffic, the Autopilot’s Traffic Aware Cruise Control will lock on the vehicle in front of the Model S to determine the speed of the vehicle and consequently when to move in traffic.

But in this case, a vehicle, presumably with car troubles, was parked on the left side of the lane and the vehicle TACC was following swerved past it by partly impinging on the right lane.

The Model S stayed locked on the vehicle. In the video, you can see the Model S accelerating when the car in front passed the parked car and also accelerated. The driver side of the Model S then hit the passenger side of the parked vehicle.

Here’s the video:

China AP accident

In a Weibo post, the driver blames the Autopilot, although he didn’t see the impact coming himself, he says it didn’t leave him enough time to react.

While it looks like the Model S barely touched the VW in the video, it scraped the driver side badly and broke the front fender:

We contacted Tesla for a comment on the accident and we will update if we hear back.

In previous accidents, Tesla pointed to the company’s policy to ask driver to keep their hands on the wheel, there’s a visual alert when activating the Autopilot,  and to always monitor the vehicle and the road when on Autopilot. It’s the driver’s responsibility to prevent accidents when using Autopilot’s features, even if some of those features are also to prevent accident, like Automatic Emergency Braking and Forward Collision warning, which both seem to have failed to activate during this accident.

Tesla’s owner manual has a warning especially for those kinds of situations:

“Warning: Traffic-Aware Cruise Control can not detect all objects and may not brake/decelerate for stationary vehicles, especially in situations when you are driving over 50 mph (80 km/h) and a vehicle you are following moves out of your driving path and a stationary vehicle or object, bicycle, or pedestrian is in front of you instead. Always pay attention to the road ahead and stay prepared to take immediate corrective action. Depending on Traffic-Aware Cruise Control to avoid a collision can result in serious injury or death. In addition, Traffic-Aware Cruise Control may react to vehicles or objects that either do not exist or are not in the lane of travel, causing Model S to slow down unnecessarily or inappropriately.”

In other occasions, the system did manage to prevent accidents, like during this recent incident in Atlanta or near miss in Washington DC.

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