In order to limit any negative impact following some reported misuses of the Autopilot, Tesla pushed more constraints to its semi-autonomous driving system through a software update late last year. The automaker made it clear that it was only a precaution and that it wasn’t aware of any accident caused by the system.
On the other hand, we learned of a few accidents that was prevented by the Autopilot (here and more recently here). When releasing the feature, Tesla made it clear that drivers should keep their hands on the steering wheel while using ‘Autosteer’, but of course Tesla owners would naturally want to push the limits of the feature, and of course we now see that even Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s wife is not using it as recommended.
Elon Musk’s on again, off again wife according to a recent divorce filing, actress and author Talulah Riley, was featured in a video posted by a friend earlier today. We didn’t get to see the original Instagram because it was deleted but a reader sent us the video below.
In the Instagram video, Riley is seen dancing, closing her eyes and covering her face while being at the wheel of a new Tesla Model X on a crowded city highway. She even almost inaudibly expressed her fear of crashing when the video ends.
The duo apparently quickly removed the video from Instagram – likely after realizing that it could be considered a misuse of the Tesla Autopilot. Here’s a quick GIF of the video:
Tesla has been very careful in the language it uses for talking about the Autopilot. When releasing the feature, they clearly asked drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel:
Tesla requires drivers to remain engaged and aware when Autosteer is enabled. Drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel.
During a presentation following the release of the system, Musk said that in good road conditions “people may [remove their hands from the steering-wheel], but we don’t advise that.” Musk also mentioned that the roads are so bad in Los Angeles that the AutoPilot sometimes has trouble seeing the lines.
The truth is that it’s fairly safe to remove your hands from the wheel. Of course, you always need to stay alert and be ready to take control (dancing and eye covering not recommended), but the Autopilot’s active safety features, like auto emergency braking and steering, are always on and should prevent the worst from happening.