Autopilot doesn’t mean Tesla cars have “autopilot”. In fact, Autopilot is a driving aid, more advanced than the rest, but just an aid. That means that the driver should never act as if the car is in full control, but that, whether out of ignorance or mental dullness, is just what many owners do.
A youtuber, named Dougal Vlogs, uploaded a video a few hours ago that has gone viral, especially considering the few subscribers he has on his channel.
This is understandable, as the video shows the crash of a Tesla Model 3 recorded from inside the car; the interesting thing, of course, is that the Autopilot is active at the moment the car crashes. However, that’s not the only thing we need to look at.
The video is recorded at night, in the middle of an apparent storm; the rain is heavy and visibility is minimal, probably not reaching more than a few tens of meters. In that situation, it is vital to maintain a speed well below the legal limit, no matter how much help the car has.
However, the speed of the car at the time of the accident is 75 mph, or 120 km/h, as can be seen briefly in the video; a speed that is probably adequate and legal on a motorway like this, but only in ideal conditions.
The cause of the accident is obvious; the car did what is known as “aquaplaning”: the wheels lost traction when they encountered a greater mass of water than the tyres could evacuate. The effect depends on the speed at which the wheels hit the wet surface, and there are no large puddles on the road, so at a lower speed the car could probably have been saved… if the driver had his hands on the wheel, because if the video has been made public it is precisely because the driver was recording with his camera (probably his mobile phone, judging by the quality), rather than paying attention to the road.