Is Tesla’s claim of Autopilot being 10x accident-proof true?


Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving assistance system is something that has made headlines several times, for both positive and negative reasons. Many times, it has been found that a Tesla car met an accident due to the erroneous driving of the Autopilot system. However, the EV manufacturer claims that its Autopilot system comes with a 10 times lower chance of an accident compared to an average vehicle.

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According to the Autopilot-related safety report for the first quarter of 2021, published by Tesla, there has been one accident for every 6.74 km driven by the drivers with Autopilot engaged.

The study also reveals that the drivers who were driving without Autopilot but other active safety features, there was one accident registered for every 2.05 million miles driven. On the other hand, people driving a Tesla with neither Autopilot nor any active safety features registered one accident for every 978,000 miles driven. The study also noted that as per NHTSA findings, there is a car crash every 484,000 miles driven.

The findings prompted Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other Tesla enthusiasts to claim that a Tesla electric car running on Autopilot is 10 times less accident-prone compared to the average vehicles.

Tesla Autopilot is predominantly used by drivers for highway driving. The study doesn’t mention the breakdown of crash rates on highways. While Tesla is claiming that its Autopilot system is 10 times safer, it is not exactly true, as most of the accidents take place on city roads and undivided roads, instead of highways.

Also, the latest data is actually worse than the Q1 2020 data, when Tesla registered one accident for every 4.68 million miles driven with Autopilot on.

Despite Tesla’s claim that Autopilot is an autonomous driving system, it is a semi-autonomous driving aid technology in reality, which allows the driver to drive hands-free, but not without any intervention. The technology requires constant monitoring by the driver and intervention when required.