It goes without saying that people are fearful of things which they are not familiar with, and when it comes to autonomous driving, you can be sure that we human beings prefer to be in control most of the time -- if not all. After all, despite current statistics showing how autonomous driving has clocked up far more miles per accident compared to regular "human behind the wheel" driving, news of an accident (or two) where autonomous driving is concerned continues to grab the attention of many, even more so when there is a death involved. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has tweeted that he is "Working on Top Secret Tesla Masterplan" (sic).
It was on July 1 when a driver of a Tesla Model X sent his vehicle into a turnpike guard rail over in Pennsylvania. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), they are currently looking into the crash in order "to determine whether automated functions were in use at the time of the crash."
Tesla themselves had this to say, "Based on the information we have now, we have no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident."
This particular crash drew plenty of interest from the general public especially after the May 7 crash in Florida that involved the death of the driver of a Tesla Model S which was running in Autopilot mode. Whenever the Tesla Autopilot system is engaged, the vehicle will remain within its lane, maintain its current speed and operate for a limited time without requiring the driver to have his or her hands on the steering wheel.
Apparently, Tesla's autopilot beta in its current phase will be deemed to be completed after clocking up 1 billion miles of testing. Yes, you read that right -- a billion miles. That is the equivalent of a thousand million miles, and if one takes into consideration how the earth's radius measures 3,963.2 miles, that would mean going around the world from end to end 40,159 times, and then some. Phew! Certainly with so many miles involved in testing, there should not be any more issues concerning accidents, as it is most probably possible that every possible aspect of road safety situations are weeded out and addressed by then in autopilot mode.
How do you view Tesla's move towards autopilot driving in their vehicles? After all, Tesla did mention that having the vehicle in autopilot mode does not mean that one jettisons one's responsibility and can take a nap or read a book, or even to watch a movie. You will still need to remain alert -- perhaps all the more, as you are being ferried around in style, ready to take over the wheel at a moment's notice when you feel as though the vehicle is not going where it is supposed to go, or to stop in time.
All in all, until us humans are comfortable with the idea of autonomous driving, companies like Tesla should be more cautious and less brash in pandering to our concerns, whims and fancies of an utopian scenario with autonomous driving in the background.