More and more car buyers in West Virginia and around the country are choosing electric vehicles, and many of the sedans and SUVs they purchase come equipped with sophisticated electronic systems as well as electric motors and lithium batteries. Tesla’s Autopilot feature is touted by the Palo Alto-based carmaker as the most advanced autonomous system currently available, but those claims were questioned recently by Consumer Reports magazine.
A team of Consumer Reports researchers put Tesla vehicles equipped with the Autopilot system through a series of tests, and they concluded that using the feature was more taxing to drivers than taking the wheel themselves. The magazine compared using Autopilot to watching an untrained teenager as they learned to drive. The system uses sensors, LiDAR and radar to monitor traffic and is designed to change lanes, accelerate and brake automatically. According to consumer reports, it often performs these tasks in an unpredictable and dangerous manner.
The testers found that Autopilot has difficulty dealing with vehicles approaching from the rear and often cuts other drivers off when it changes lanes. They also say that the system sometimes brakes violently and unexpectedly. The scathing review is another setback for Tesla’s autonomous technology program. Three fatal accidents have been blamed on the system’s inability to spot and account for other vehicles. Tesla has dismissed the findings and blames the accidents on driver error.
Drivers who are involved in traffic accidents while autonomous systems are controlling their vehicles could be ignoring manufacturer’s warnings and may be held financially responsible for their reckless behavior in civil court. When representing clients who may have been injured in such an accident, experienced personal injury attorneys might have the vehicle involved inspected to obtain its electronic records. This information may reveal that the autonomous systems was in use at the time of the crash and the driver was not paying proper attention.