Tesla Autopilot Steers Car Into Barrier In Autobahn Construction Zone

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Originally published on EV Obsession.

There was a recent posting on reddit where a Tesla Model S owner in Germany detailed a situation at night (and in a construction zone) where the engaged Autopilot function apparently ran him, ever so slightly, into a concrete wall with yellow reflectors on it.

While the damage was apparently minor, repair costs on Teslas can be pretty ridiculous, so I can’t imagine that the driver is too happy. I’ll say, though, of all the situations where I would decide to use Autopilot, the one described above isn’t one of them….

Here’s an excerpt from the original post:

I was driving on the A7 Autobahn in the middle of the night, heading for the ski resort in Bad Gastein when I came to a roadwork section.
I had activated the Autopilot most of the way and it was especially comfortable to use on roadwork sections because of the low speed and narrow lanes.
Normally on the Autobahn roadwork sections there are two lanes where the left lane is very narrow and the right lane is a bit wider, and since the Tesla is quite wide, I normally take the right lane. This section was a bit different because the right lane was used for an exit, so I had to use the left lane.
The Autopilot did very well for most of the section, keeping the car in the middle of the lane between the lane barrier to the left and the line to the right.
…A small concrete wall with yellow reflectors sticking out. The Tesla could clearly see the barrier all the time as shown by the side collision warnings (there were no audible warnings while the Autopilot was activated).

The barrier was of course very straight but the line was unfortunately not.
The accident happened when the lane got a bit wider (a few centimeters) and then shortly after got narrow again. Instead of driving on the line, the car swirled to the left and hit the reflectors on the barrier. I immediately deactivated the Autopilot and then the side collision warning sounds began.
There were no other cars, so there was no reason for Autopilot to prefer to hit the barrier instead of crossing the line a little bit.
…I have notified Tesla but I have yet to get a response. I hope they fix this issue.

Having seen the sorts of construction sections on the Autobahn that he’s referring to, I have to wonder why he would use Autopilot there — they’re extremely narrow.

You can see pics of the type of lane, damage, and more damage for a bit more perspective.

(Tip of the hat to “calisnow” on the TMC forum.)

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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