Self-driving software has been highly scrutinized over the last few months because of a few high profile accidents and at least one fatality.
One incident resulted after a driver’s Model S failed to distinguish a crossing truck trailer and crashed into it, killing the driver. Still, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is adamant that autonomous cars are many times safer than cars driven by humans and is accumulating millions of miles of accident-free driving to back his claim up.
One new video is definitive proof of the power of computers, and shows a Model S in the Netherlands predict a nasty accident just moments before it happened, potentially saving lives. It’s hard to watch this video and not think that autonomous vehicles are the wave of the future.
As you can see, the Tesla beeps, pumps the brakes automatically, then completely avoids the accident thereby protecting not only the drivers inside the vehicle, but the people in the flipped-over SUV and the compact car that caused the crash in the first place.
The vehicle’s forward collision warning system—which monitors traffic and notices patterns that could lead to an accident—is heard sounding an alert just before the car comes to a stop, a Tesla representative confirmed to CNBNC. As the car brakes, the vehicle ahead is rammed into the guardrail. The Tesla system clearly worked as intended in this case.
According to Hans Noordsij, the Twitter user who shared the video Tuesday, no one involved in the crash suffered serious injury.
While this video certainly captures the benefits of an autonomous system that’s constantly monitoring traffic, there’s a potential downside. What if the car in the video didn’t cause an accident? Let’s assume for a moment that instead of losing control and bumping the SUV, the driver recovered and re-joined traffic. It’s possible that the Tesla system would have abruptly stopped the car anyway and could have caused a wreck while attempting to prevent one.
It’s issues like these that are being addressed and need to be considered as a car-to-car communication system is developed. Autonomous cars are happening, but it certainly seems like they should be able to talk to each other before full autonomy takes over our streets and highways. Once that happens, accidents could become a thing of the past.
Does this video make you want a car capable of autonomous driving?