Some people are using Tesla’s new autopilot technology for fun, like driving across the country in record time. Others, though, are finding that the new feature helps avoid dangerous crashes.
Hall was driving on State Route 99 just north of downtown Seattle when an oncoming car attempted to make a left turn directly in front of him.
“I was watching traffic to my right and that Honda turned right in front of me,” Hall told GeekWire. “I would have smashed right into him had the car not hit the (brakes) for me.”
On Reddit, Hall wrote that he set his autopilot “a couple MPH below the speed limit of 45.”
“It’s easy to say that in hindsight, I should be going slower, but traffic tends not to pull out from you in that direction,” Hall wrote. “I was actually watching cars to the right of me, which is the entire reason the car reacted and I didn’t. All the fault is in the other driver, and the video clearly shows this.”
Hall said he had his autopilot set to follow cars at the “maximum distance.”
“I wasn’t even able to honk the horn before the car came to a stop,” he wrote. “The autopilot saved my butt!”
In the YouTube video description, Hall wrote that “I did not touch the brake. Car did all the work. Sadly no audio, because I had an Uber passenger and Washington has strict privacy laws about recording conversations.”
Tesla rolled out the autopilot feature to Model S owners earlier this month. Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted that “we want people to be quite careful with the autopilot,” adding that drivers should keep their “hands on the wheel” while using the feature, Popular Mechanics noted.
Here’s a bit more about the technology from Wired:
Autosteer, the beta feature of Autopilot that’s being pushed to the Model S and X, uses real-time feedback features and a suite of sensors—-a front-facing radar, a camera with image recognition capability, and 360-degree ultrasonic sonar—-to read lane lines and detect other vehicles. Based on that info, the car steers itself and maintains a safe speed.
Hall, who moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington seven years ago, said he’s been using the Autopilot feature since it was released on Oct. 15.
“I use it mainly as intended (interstate and highway), but occasionally use it under close supervision on some neighborhood roads by my house, or in very bad traffic in downtown Seattle,” he said.
Hall said he became “obsessed with Tesla” a few years ago and invested in the company “which allowed me to afford the car when the stock went crazy.”
“Now I work full time as an Uber driver in Seattle with the Tesla, and am going back to school for electrical engineering,” he said. “Clearly my Tesla obsession is influencing my life.”