Photo: The Next Avenue
Tesla's Autopilot continues to cause heated debates the world over. Recent accidents involving Tesla vehicles that have yet to be proven to have used Autopilot prompted Loup Ventures to take a closer look at the technology and its impact on driving safety. The firm concluded that Tesla Autopilot makes vehicles much safer despite it still being in its early stages.
Tesla Autopilot technology is very new. Although the manufacturer warns users to be fully attentive even when Autopilot is on, the regulators read that this is not enough. Loup Ventures points out that, as with most transformative technologies, when failures occur, naturally there is a regulatory concern. Given that Tesla is the leader in autonomous vehicles, they are under more scrutiny.
The firm points out that regulatory analysis is missing the bigger picture: Autopilot makes vehicles much safer despite still being in its early stages, and autonomous vehicles could significantly reduce deaths over the next decade.
- Tesla reports one accident for every 3.7m miles driven while Autopilot is engaged.
- For perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports one accident for every ~475k miles driven for all US vehicles.
- Separately, there are three tiers of autonomy features on a Tesla. When Active Safety Features are turned on but Autopilot is turned off, Tesla reports an accident every 2.1m miles driven, and one accident per 1.5m miles when both Active Safety Features and Autopilot are turned off.
All the facts indicate that Tesla cars with Autopilot or Active Safety Features enabled—or even when both Active Safety Features and Autopilot are turned off—are significantly safer than other cars that are driven by humans.
From a data point of view, it is clear that Autopilot has improved over time. The more data Tesla vehicles collect, the better algorithms can be created, and the better the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) performs.
Loup Ventures emphasizes that Autopilot and especially Full Self-Driving (FSD) are in their early stages, so accidents using these technologies will occur periodically, but the situation will change over time. It will take time for people to get used to cars that take on more driving functions since it is easier and more convenient to put the responsibility on a person than on a car.
The firm believes that widespread adoption of autonomous driving systems will drastically reduce vehicle fatalities, much like seat belts did in the '70s, but on a much larger scale.
© 2021, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.