Joshua Brown, a driver from Ohio, was cruising down the interstate with "Tessy" - his Tesla Model S car - when a bucket truck cut across three lanes of traffic and recklessly merged into his lane to get to the exit ramp. Luckily, Tesla's autopilot system reacted quickly and veered the car to the right, preventing a potentially bad collision.
Brown was able to film his heart-pounding encounter and posted it on YouTube. He wrote in the description that he didn't notice the incoming truck until the autopilot system kicked in.
"I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the 'immediately take over' warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision," the owner explains in the video description on YouTube.
The Tesla Model S car made its debut in June 2012 and was ranked as the world's best-selling electric vehicle in 2015. It also scored a perfect 5.0 in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) automobile safety rating with its generous crumple zones and impact-resistant front and side body.
According to Tesla's website, several Model S components have been customized and integrated with the autopilot system to improve safety. The Model S can detect dangers on the front and sides of the car. At launch, many drivers interpreted autopilot to mean fully autonomous driving. This is not the case however, and Tesla recommends that drivers maintain full vigilance even during autopilot operation.
This is an important first step to Tesla's long-term goals. The company aims to develop fully autonomous vehicle technology to remove human error from the equation and make highways worldwide safer.
Brown has been a fan of Tesla's technology for a long time and maintains a YouTube channel full of videoshighlighting the vehicle's features, including autopilot. Some of his videos were meant to educate other drivers about the limitations of the autopilot system, which includes difficulty detecting lane dividers on dark or winding roads. Despite these flaws, Brown can thank the autopilot functionality of Tesla for saving his life.
Given the sharp increase of traffic deaths in 2015, as published in the early estimate report by NHTSA, it seems inevitable that something must change to address this issue. With distracted driving as a top cause coupled with human error, driving under the influence, and other preventable driver-caused accidents, Tesla's autonomous driving technology might not only become the norm but may become a requirement for all highways in the future.