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Watch an oblivious Tesla Model 3 smash into an overturned truck on a highway 'while under Autopilot'
Driver braked but it was too late
Video A Tesla Model 3 plowed straight into the roof of an overturned truck lying across a highway in Taiwan, sparking fears the driver trusted the car's Autopilot a little too much.
The smash occurred on Monday at 0640 local time (2240 UTC) and the drivers of both vehicles were unharmed according to Taiwan's Liberty Times. You can see the accident for yourself below:
The crash on the Zhongshan High Chiayi Water Section on National Highway 1 shows a white truck turned on its side, taking up two lanes of the highway. As the Tesla car approached the truck at highway speed, the brakes puffed once and then the flash motor rammed straight into the roof of the truck.
According to the 53-year-old Tesla driver, Mr Huang, he had engaged Autopilot while traveling at 68 MPH (110 KPH). When he saw the truck, he slammed on the brakes, he explained, but it was too late.
The prang reminds us of a previous case where a 40-year-old man was beheaded after his Tesla Model S, while in Autopilot mode, hit a white 18-wheeler tractor trailer in 2016.
Tesla said the vehicle’s Autopilot and driver failed to see the trailer in that particular accident. “The vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S," Tesla said in a statement at the time.
"Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield."
It’s possible the same problem may have occurred in the latest accident. If the driver of the Tesla Model 3 had indeed enabled Autopilot, its software may have had trouble recognizing the truck’s white roof and, therefore, it would have failed to detect it as an obstacle in its path and so it didn’t bother braking – all while the driver may have been distracted or not paying attention.
Autopilot is Tesla's super-cruise-control technology; drivers are supposed to pay attention to the road and be ready to take over even when it is engaged.
The Register has asked Tesla for comment. ®