If ever you've needed a reason to be excited by the prospect of driverless cars, well here it is. Amazing footage taken from a Tesla's dashcam shows the incredible, potentially live saving benefits of autonomous car features.
Dutch Tesla Model X owner Frank van Hoesel shared the footage of his Autopilot 8.0 equipped vehicle making a disaster-avoiding decision on his behalf out on a highway. In the clip below, you can see Hoesel's car making an emergency stop to avoid a pile-up – before the crash up ahead had even taken place.
Original video, authorisation from the owner. Essential, no one could predict the accident but the radar did and acted by emergency braking. pic.twitter.com/70MySRiHGRDecember 27, 2016
A safer future
In the video, you can hear the Model X's Forward Collision Warning system bleep and apply the brakes before a human could ever have seen what was to occur.
So how did the Tesla manage to predict the disastrous future? Whereas a human driver would have had its view obscured by the vehicle immediately in front of it, the Model X makes use of a radar system which lets it “see” the movements of cars two vehicles ahead. As such, it was able to spot the frontmost SUV braking abruptly, which caused the car directly in front of Hoesel's to smash into the back. Had the Tesla not hit the brakes on Hoesel's behalf, it's almost certain his vehicle too would have been involved in the accident.
And, if you're worried about the drivers in the other two cars, rest easy in the knowledge that no-one was seriously harmed, despite the nasty collision.
While we're still a long way off a truly autonomous roadworthy vehicle, incremental steps like those Tesla is spearheading are doing much to promote the potential safety benefits of AI-powered cars. For the time being, it's heartening to know that when AI and human drivers work in tandem, the two can complement each other with life-saving effect.