Can autopilot save lives?


- Slate.com

Neally left his work early on a Tuesday Afternoon in late July. He drove his new Tesla Model X and steered his electric luxury SUV into the gathering rush-hour traffic and turned on “autopilot, a feature unique to Tesla that allows a car to pilot itself—braking, accelerating, steering—for long stretches of freeway driving”. This is Tesla’s ambition to replace human drivers with this software.
 Neally suddenly felt something coil and stiffen in his abdomen. The pain would not lessen, so Neally directly went to the emergency room using the autopilot.
The doctors told Neally that he’d suffered a “pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal obstruction of a blood vessel in his lungs. They told him he was lucky to have survived.” Neally says that if he it was his car that helped him get to the emergency room easier and faster.
By marketing their feature as ‘Autopilot,’ Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security,” Consumer Reports Vice President Laura MacCleery said. “In the long run, advanced active safety technologies in vehicles could make our roads safer. But today, we’re deeply concerned that consumers are being sold a pile of promises about unproven technology.”
Tesla refutes the critiques received from rival companies. The company argues that Autopilot is actually more likely to save a person than to cause accidents, and that for the safety of their customers, they should in fact use this software.
Tesla makes a strong case for itself. The company worked on many tactics including many test-drives with workers in Tesla and non-workers. The autopilot software also analyzes every move in the car so that it can control it more. So Tesla underwent many tests before it was launched and said to be safe.
“What we know at this point is that autopilot can hurt or kill people if used improperly and that it also has the potential to save people. It’s also fair to assume that the technology will get safer over time as Tesla and other companies study and learn from its errors. The only question is whether the public can or should tolerate its rare mistakes in the meantime.”

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