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Dashcam video: my Tesla smacks armored truck while on Autopilot

Slymonkey

Member
Aug 9, 2016
38
68
Los Angeles, CA
I've owned my MS for a year and a half and have absolutely loved the car, but something happened a few weeks ago that really rattled my confidence in Tesla. While I was driving on the freeway in stop-and-go traffic on a gray, rainy day, an armored truck slowly moves into my lane, and my car smacks right into the back of the truck at 23 MPH while on Autopilot (AP1). It was all captured on my dashcam. Since I was behind the wheel, I take responsibility for the accident. However, Autopilot clearly failed to see the truck in a scenario that happens dozens of times per trip (vehicle moving into your lane). On a lark, I pinged some random Tesla execs with the video via Linkedin to see what they think. A few days later, I get a call from my local service manager from Tesla Costa Mesa. He told me that they had pulled the data from my car over the air, analyzed the information, and concluded that: A) my car was on Autopilot when the accident occurred; B) the software and hardware performed within specs and as designed; and C) the reason the accident occurred is because Autopilot is not reliable in rainy conditions. That last sentence absolutely blew my mind. Autopilot may fail to see a very large truck in broad daylight if it's raining?

What do you guys think?

 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
8,805
7,615
Visalia, CA
...rattled my confidence...

That's a healthy attitude for Autopilot because it is still in beta so anything is possible.

Blaming it for poor weather conditions is just giving it too much credits.

There's no need for bad weather because Florida and Mountain View fatalities happened in broad daylight, good weather, and clear visualization.

Thanks for sharing experience.

Tesla will improve the system but it just takes time.
 

Big Earl

bnkwupt
Jul 12, 2017
5,317
9,837
Springfield, VA
I’ve found that the system won’t recognize a vehicle until it’s fully in your lane. You have to be careful with cut-in merge scenarios like this because of APs tendency to not recognize the vehicle until it’s too late. In some situations, the car can even accelerate as the cutting-in vehicle comes into your lane. Our Cadillac ELR with MobilEye radar cruise control behaves the same way.
 

araxara

S-P85#3,218 X-LR M3AWD
May 11, 2012
1,016
381
Tucson, AZ
I’ve found that the system won’t recognize a vehicle until it’s fully in your lane. You have to be careful with cut-in merge scenarios like this because of APs tendency to not recognize the vehicle until it’s too late. In some situations, the car can even accelerate as the cutting-in vehicle comes into your lane. Our Cadillac ELR with MobilEye radar cruise control behaves the same way.
I have a Model X with AP1 and have gotten an alert and a red car showing in the center dash when someone started to cross into my lane. This was in clear weather and I assumed it was the radar which detected it, not just the camera.
 

J1mbo

Active Member
Aug 20, 2013
1,593
1,386
UK
I’ve found that the system won’t recognize a vehicle until it’s fully in your lane. You have to be careful with cut-in merge scenarios like this because of APs tendency to not recognize the vehicle until it’s too late. In some situations, the car can even accelerate as the cutting-in vehicle comes into your lane. Our Cadillac ELR with MobilEye radar cruise control behaves the same way.

+1, although "recognise" is probably the wrong word, I would say "act on" is closer to the truth.

10.4 (AP2) seems to act a bit sooner, but I doubt the outcome would have been much different to the video.
 
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xborg

Member
Oct 21, 2015
356
383
London
sorry for your experience. you should be happy that you were not travelling faster, otherwise it may have ended very badly.

"the software and hardware performed within specs and as designed"
after every autopilot accident, we hear this sentence from Tesla, and it makes me laugh.
 
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nowtleft

Member
Apr 16, 2017
298
92
Uk
I am updating my Model S soon and do not think I will bother with autopilot at all due to things like this and my experiences with Tesla's false promises. I would have tacc though if available without AP. With AP on my current car I still have hand(s) on wheel as I dont know where else to put them lol - makes ap pointless until full autonomy works in 20 years or so.
 

EVSteve

110% Solar Powered
Jul 14, 2014
383
403
Schnecksville, PA
I'm having a difficult time understanding why improper use of the autopilot system has rattled your confidence in Tesla. The slow pace of travel, and plenty of space available to the truck tells me there adequate time to take control and avoid the collision. Fortunately a lesson learned at slow speed unlike others who recently lost their lives when using the system outside of its current capacity. Be thankful for the second chance.
 

Reciprocity

Active Member
Feb 27, 2017
4,160
10,905
Chicagoland
I've owned my MS for a year and a half and have absolutely loved the car, but something happened a few weeks ago that really rattled my confidence in Tesla. While I was driving on the freeway in stop-and-go traffic on a gray, rainy day, an armored truck slowly moves into my lane, and my car smacks right into the back of the truck at 23 MPH while on Autopilot (AP1). It was all captured on my dashcam. Since I was behind the wheel, I take responsibility for the accident. However, Autopilot clearly failed to see the truck in a scenario that happens dozens of times per trip (vehicle moving into your lane). On a lark, I pinged some random Tesla execs with the video via Linkedin to see what they think. A few days later, I get a call from my local service manager from Tesla Costa Mesa. He told me that they had pulled the data from my car over the air, analyzed the information, and concluded that: A) my car was on Autopilot when the accident occurred; B) the software and hardware performed within specs and as designed; and C) the reason the accident occurred is because Autopilot is not reliable in rainy conditions. That last sentence absolutely blew my mind. Autopilot may fail to see a very large truck in broad daylight if it's raining?

What do you guys think?


I would suggest paying attention to the road and using your right foot to apply the breaks when someone cuts you off. Auto pilot is a lane keeping, driver assist system. The best made. It's not your nanny.
 

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,034
39,248
Michigan
I've owned my MS for a year and a half and have absolutely loved the car, but something happened a few weeks ago that really rattled my confidence in Tesla. While I was driving on the freeway in stop-and-go traffic on a gray, rainy day, an armored truck slowly moves into my lane, and my car smacks right into the back of the truck at 23 MPH while on Autopilot (AP1). It was all captured on my dashcam. Since I was behind the wheel, I take responsibility for the accident. However, Autopilot clearly failed to see the truck in a scenario that happens dozens of times per trip (vehicle moving into your lane). On a lark, I pinged some random Tesla execs with the video via Linkedin to see what they think. A few days later, I get a call from my local service manager from Tesla Costa Mesa. He told me that they had pulled the data from my car over the air, analyzed the information, and concluded that: A) my car was on Autopilot when the accident occurred; B) the software and hardware performed within specs and as designed; and C) the reason the accident occurred is because Autopilot is not reliable in rainy conditions. That last sentence absolutely blew my mind. Autopilot may fail to see a very large truck in broad daylight if it's raining?

What do you guys think?


Seems like radar didn't pick it up until it was mostly in your lane (which makes sense with shape and radar position), then FCW kicked on. May have been too slow for AEB?

Glad you are ok.
 

vraev

Member
Jan 31, 2018
223
153
Mississauga
I agree that AP is currently unable to fully recognize vehicles until they enter your lane. Furthermore, in rain/bad weather conditions, I almost always loose the ability to use AP. It gives me a front radar visibility reduced error and does not allow me to use AP. I think Tesla should really turn on those B pillar and side indicator cameras on and feed that data into the AP computer. I think that will make a tremendous difference in the awareness of the car and make it a lot more safer to use. I wonder why they don't use those additional cameras yet for AP (not FSD).
 

Electroman

Supporting Member
Aug 18, 2012
6,221
6,295
TX
You know.. I am a big supporter of AP and believe that in most of the accidents it is the edge cases that I think AP cannot handle and we as the drivers should know it limitations. The CA death, the fire truck crash and the China fatal crash - all are IMO due to driver inattention and level 2 AP is not to blame.

But in this case, it is a vanilla TACC function that should stop when there is a relatively slow *moving* object in front. The things that bother me here:

a) It (armored truck) was a moving object, and
b) when the Tesla hit, the truck was almost 40% into the lane
c) rain shouldn't matter much for TACC which uses radar and sonars. TACC is available under ALL weather and road conditions.

To somehow claim that AP cannot handle this very basic condition, bothers me. So what next? lets take the very standard, basic use-case 101:

You are driving under good conditions with a moderate 20mph stop and go traffic. Tesla identified the car in the front, shows the car icon on the dash, and that car lets say it gently rolls to a stop. Can I be 100% certain that my Tesla will stop? If it does not and it bumps into the front car, is that okay? Do we still blame the driver?

Rather under what conditions can we say, AP should have handled it, and it is liable ?

Lets take a simple example to illustrate the point: When I put my gear in 'D' and press the accelerator I can be 100% certain that the car will go forward and not backwards. If it did go backwards then the car is at fault and you cannot blame the driver.

My question is: are there situations like that you can not blame the driver when it comes to an accident with AP turned on?
 
Last edited:

Graffi

Member
Apr 30, 2017
713
710
San Diego, CA
I have AP-2 and I see this all the time. Slow freeway traffic and someone cuts into my lane because AP keeps a gap between me and the car in front. When I see a car moving into my lane I will have my foot ready to press the brake waiting for AP to slow down. Sometimes it will, most times it will not. But like the OP stated, it is our, the driver, responsibility to maintain control. Knowing that AP is still beta I do not put full trust in it in other than full speed freeway driving, but use AP as much as I can so that data can be collected to make it better. Not sure if it does collect data, but I do it anyway, knowing that I may have to take control at any moment.
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
15,610
34,315
Oregon
TACC is available under ALL weather and road conditions.

It may be available but they tell you not to use it in a lot of conditions. From the manual:

Traffic-Aware Cruise Control is primarily intended for driving on dry, straight roads, such as highways and freeways. It should not be used on city streets.

Warning: Do not use Traffic-Aware Cruise Control on winding roads with sharp curves, on icy or slippery road surfaces, or when weather conditions (such as heavy rain, snow, fog, etc.) make it inappropriate to drive at a consistent speed. Traffic-Aware Cruise Control does not adapt driving speed based on road and driving conditions.
 
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