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AutoPilot Crash today-Tesla response less than stellar?

carnutfan

Member
Oct 24, 2016
47
50
Mars
I was on the last day of my 7-day deposit period. I was really excited about the car. So I took my friend to a local Tesla store and we went for a drive. AP was engaged. As we went up a hill, the car was NOT slowing down approaching a red light at 50 mph. The salesperson suggested that my friend not brake, letting the system do the work. It didn't. The car in front of us had come to a complete stop. The salesperson then said, "brake!". Full braking didn't stop the car in time and we rear-ended the car in front of us HARD. All airbags deployed. The car was totaled. I have heard from a number of AP owners that there are limitations to the system (of course) but, wow! The purpose of this post isn't to assign blame, but I mention this for the obvious reason that AP isn't autonomous and it makes sense to have new drivers use this system in very restricted circumstances before activating it in a busy urban area.

Last, but not least. I cancelled my order until I know more about what happened. The salesperson was very understanding and apologetic. When I called later to make sure it was cancelled, they said they were aware of my salesperson's notes in the system, but didn't mention it until I asked and only after asking my why I canceled. They promised to send me an email confirmation of the cancellation. It didn't arrive. This evening I received a call from Tesla. They wanted to know if I wanted to cancel(!). The person was totally uninterested in the crash, even after I asked if she knew about it (from the system notes). Totally flat. They sent me a cancellation email, but didn't specify that the deposit would be refunded. This isn't cool and I cannot believe a company with this much positive P.R. wouldn't have moved this way up the ladder immediately to make sure that someone who'd already ordered a car and was introducing a potential buyer was taken care of.

Just my .02. I really am excited about the car and don't want to throw away months of research because of this incident. Tesla needs to address this.
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K-MTG

Sunshade Captain of TMC
Oct 24, 2015
4,815
3,442
Irvine, CA
No way!!! Even Tesla sales reps should know to only use autopilot on highways. What was the follow distant set to, I am surprised the car didn't even recognize that their was another car in front.
 
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andrewket

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2012
5,704
1,525
I am not sure why the sales person would tell your friend not to brake. AP1 is really designed for highway driving. It sounds as if you came up over a hill, which means the radar couldn't track the car in front of you. Once you came over the hill and the radar could see the car, it was stationary, and the system doesn't track that.

It's a good system, but you have to understand when and where to use it, and its limitations.

There are many benefits to owning a Tesla over and beyond AP. I hope you will give Tesla another chance. Our planet is counting on it.
 

carnutfan

Member
Oct 24, 2016
47
50
Mars
I believe it was set to 6. @andrewket, I agree with you about where to use it, so imagine an inexperienced person in this situation. The car doesn't behave like humans. It rushed up to the car in front of it. Very scary.
 

hacer

Active Member
Apr 13, 2016
1,137
5,017
Clarksville, MD
Wow that was one stupid sales person! Hills are one of the well known things that autopilot can have trouble with. To tell the driver not to brake is shocking. Plus the driver should not have listened. It must have been obvious that breaking was needed sooner than it was applied. I don't know what you expect of Tesla except to fire their sales person.

With a hill the radar either is looking too high (going up hill) or sees the road reflection (down hill) which is a big stationary object that it must ignore because it can't hit the road. The camera also is not aimed well for objects on hills. Finally the radar is not very effective when the first signal from a car in front is when that car is already stopped. It is hard to distinguish from the many other stationary reflections all around. It does really well when it sees a moving object (even very slowly moving). Then it can track it to a complete stop. There are also lots of cases where it can see stationary cars ahead and respond appropriately but far too many times when it won't to ignore your driving responsibility.
 
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carnutfan

Member
Oct 24, 2016
47
50
Mars
I am not interested in getting anyone fired. I am interested in how Tesla responds to someone who really wants to drive a Model S but has had an experience like this. Thank you for the information on the hills. If I do end up getting one, I will be very prudent in its use.
 
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ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,345
14,011
West Vancouver, British Columbia
we went for a drive. AP was engaged. As we went up a hill, the car was NOT slowing down approaching a red light at 50 mph. The salesperson suggested that my friend not brake, letting the system do the work. It didn't.
That salesperson made a fatal error in allowing you to engage AP on a road with cross traffic, and then compounded the error by allowing AP to operate on a hill with a signal on the other side. AP is not yet capable of handling that scenario.

I wonder if that salesperson is still a Tesla employee...
 

Canuck

Well-Known Member
Nov 30, 2013
6,125
5,474
South Surrey, BC
Unbelievable story. I'm glad no one was hurt. I can understand your reluctance in ordering after this experience. My car doesn't have AP (I bought before AP came out) and it's one of the best purchases I have made. I look forward to driving it every day, if that's any encouragement to you.

I also wouldn't base your decision to buy on how Tesla responds. Tesla has growing pains and it's not the same company it was a few years ago when they could devote more time to each individual buyer. I think those days are gone for good. But the product is still great and that's what it was all about for me.
 

krazineurons

krazineurons
May 24, 2016
287
71
Redmond, wa
Say, you went ahead with the order, couldn't resist the wait for a Tesla so decided to go for a test drive, if the crash had happened at that time what would you have done, you don't get to keep your money at that time either. Should have gone ahead with the order and not get autopilot activated.

Frankly the story sounds manufactured.

If you were buying a tesla because of just autopilot then you didn't do your research right.

Also are you saying tesla took the blame on them for the accident and not charge the driver's insurance, even though they make you sign a waiver before test drive starts.
 

bmah

Moderator
Supporting Member
Mar 17, 2015
4,172
7,736
Lafayette, CA, USA
IMHO the system is very nuanced and would require many sessions to understand its benefits and limitations. That isn't possible on a single test-drive.

As one of the people who's used AP since the day it was released, I completely agree with this. I'm not sure what the delivery orientation covers with respect to auto-pilot nowadays but I don't have high hopes in this area. There are some good training resources here on TMC (look for a thread entitled "A Flight Instructor Teaches Auto-Pilot" or something similar, it's a bit dated but almost all of it is applicable today), but unfortunately it's incumbent on you the new owner (or prospective owner) to seek them out. I wish we (as in the Tesla community) had some more easily accessible training materials on some of the more advanced systems like AP.

You didn't say if there were any injuries in the collision...I hope you, your friend, and anyone else involved is OK.

Bruce.
 

S4WRXTTCS

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2015
5,623
6,394
Snohomish, WA
In this case I think truth is stranger than fiction because that's too crazy of a story to be made up. Plus the entire thing relies on a known limitation with the AP system.

It relies on the radar not being able to see a stopped car.

This is something that is being addressed and fixed in some future version of 8.X

The only thing different in this case is it was a sales person who told the driver not to stop which is kinda hilarious. That also depends on the knowledge that the sales people are not always the brightness bulbs.

In the case of the OP I can understand their concern. I would suggest to them to leave it canceled, and wait for AP 2.0 to arrive. That won't have this ridiculousness. It's also important to not that one cannot come to any conclusions about AP 2.0 when test driving a AP 1.0 car. They are completely different systems with entirely different hardware/software. It doesn't matter what happened because it's not applicable to the AP 2.0 system.
 
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reynirb

Member
Oct 16, 2016
133
45
Coral Springs, FL
In this case I think truth is stranger than fiction because that's too crazy of a story to be made up. Plus the entire thing relies on a known limitation with the AP system.

It relies on the radar not being able to see a stopped car.

This is something that is being addressed and fixed in some future version of 8.X

The only thing different in this case is it was a sales person who told the driver not to stop which is kinda hilarious. That also depends on the knowledge that the sales people are not always the brightness bulbs.

In the case of the OP I can understand their concern. I would suggest to them to leave it canceled, and wait for AP 2.0 to arrive. That won't have this ridiculousness. It's also important to not that one cannot come to any conclusions about AP 2.0 when test driving a AP 1.0 car. They are completely different systems with entirely different hardware/software. It doesn't matter what happened because it's not applicable to the AP 2.0 system.

Not sure why that would be the case. Radars when used in autopilots or adaptive cruise control work basically on the doppler principle to understand if an object is getting closer or further away.

If I drive at 70MPH behind a car doing 70MPH, the radar sees the car in front of me as stationary, it is neither getting further away nor approaching me. The same applies at 50MPH, 20MPH or 0MPH.

The radar would be ignoring stationary vehicles in adjacent lanes, as otherwise it would be emergency braking when passing a vehicle stopped in the emergency lane next to you, it shouldn't ignore anything in your path.

So, unless you are referring to a known engineering issue, a radar would never ignore an object approaching you, it is simply not how a radar works.
 
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davidc18

Active Member
Apr 25, 2015
1,831
1,236
Ft. Lauderdale
Well known limitation of AP 1.0 is that it does not always "see" stationary vehicles, it is in the owners manual. Something in how Tesla implemented the AP system resulted in this very well documented limitation (FW 7.x uses the camera as the primary sensor, FW 8.0 uses the radar as the primary sensor). Firmware 8.0 was supposed to make it less likely.
 
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Matias

Active Member
Apr 2, 2014
3,420
3,756
Finland
New cars have new hardware training as we speak. Would you say they have already addressed this issue?

Car was most likely AP 1.0 and this is a known issue with it. Sometimes it faills to see cars that are at full stop when AP sees them first time.
 

carnutfan

Member
Oct 24, 2016
47
50
Mars
What is AEB and how does it affect AP? If I'm going to re-order, I'd like to know from a user perspective (not sales) what to look for. Thanks.
 

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