The car world is racing towards autonomous vehicles and the associated technologies, but it seems not everyone is ready to relinquish control.
A video has emerged online of an unnamed 70-year-old lady in the driving seat of the Tesla Model S while on a two-lane highway in America. Autopilot, a mixture of adaptive cruise control and lane assist, has been engaged.
At this point, we see the lady get extremely worked up as the Model S navigates along of its own accord. “Oh God Bill, this is so scary,” she shouts, “this is my first day out in her and I’m about to die!”
After more screaming and panicking, the limitations of the Autopilot system cause her son, William Rimmer, to grab the steering wheel to retake control.
Rimmer decided to film the reaction and post it on YouTube. It has since been picked up by a number of major news outlets.
Autopilot is a £2,200 optional extra (£2,600 if you spec after a car has left the factory) that controls the steering, braking and acceleration without any input from the driver. It can even change lane for you when you indicate.
Tesla added the Autopilot feature as part of its 7.0 software update back in October 2015. The Model S can also perpendicular park itself and there’s a ‘summon’ feature of the Tesla app that lets it move straight forward without anyone inside.
We have just spent a week with the Tesla Model S P90D and we are more than familiar with Autopilot. On motorways it’s remarkably accomplished yet feels somewhat bizarre trusting your life to a machine at around 70mph.
Take it on A or B roads where the car’s cameras, ultrasonic sensors and data and the system proves much less effective (it can actually be quite scary), which is why Tesla is keen to point out it’s a driving aid and that your hands should be on the steering wheel at all times.
So no hopping in the back for a snooze, then.