The NYT has an investigation into Tesla’s self-driving technology, with the results that you would suspect:
We parked at the spot where he hit the police S.U.V. four years earlier. There was nothing special about the road here: no strange lines, no confusing lane shift, no merge. Just a single lane of traffic running along a row of parked cars. Why the Tesla failed at that moment was a mystery.
Eventually, Key told F.S.D. to take us back to the cafe. As we started our left turn, though, the steering wheel spasmed and the brake pedal juddered. Key muttered a nervous, “OK. … ”
After another moment, the car pulled halfway across the road and stopped. A line of cars was bearing down on our broadside. Key hesitated a second but then quickly took over and completed the turn. “It probably could have then accelerated, but I wasn’t willing to cut it that close,” he said. If he was wrong, of course, there was a good chance that he would have had his second A.I.-caused accident on the same one-mile stretch of road.
Slavik sent me one of the complaints he filed against Tesla, which lists prominent Autopilot crashes from A to Z — in fact, from A to WW. In China, a Tesla slammed into the back of a street sweeper. In Florida, a Tesla hit a tractor-trailer that was stretched across two lanes of a highway. During a downpour in Indiana, a Tesla Model 3 hydroplaned off the road and burst into flames. In the Florida Keys, a Model S drove through an intersection and killed a pedestrian. In New York, a Model Y struck a man who was changing his tire on the shoulder of the Long Island Expressway. In Montana, a Tesla steered unexpectedly into a highway barrier. Then the same thing happened in Dallas and in Mountain View and in San Jose.
Ever since Autopilot was released in October 2015, Musk has encouraged drivers to think of it as more advanced than it was, stating in January 2016 that it was “probably better” than a human driver. That November, the company released a video of a Tesla navigating the roads of the Bay Area with the disclaimer: “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.” Musk also rejected the name “Copilot” in favor of “Autopilot.”
The fine print made clear that the technology was for driver assistance only, but that message received a fraction of the attention of Musk’s announcements. A large number of drivers seemed genuinely confused about Autopilot’s capabilities. (Tesla also declined to disclose that the car in the 2016 video crashed in the company’s parking lot.) Slavik’s legal complaint doesn’t hold back: “Tesla’s conduct was despicable, and so contemptible that it would be looked down upon and despised by ordinary decent people.
This is not going to end well for anyone except for Tesla’s competitors.