It is tough being Tesla. In a world where cars are becoming electric, just as the company initially intended when its mission began 18 years ago, Tesla is the top dog at the moment. Every car company in the world is nipping at its heels in an attempt to catch up to Elon Musk’s car company. However, recent developments have inspired me to look at a different kind of competition that Tesla is facing, something that feels somewhat unjust in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, it’s not from another car company, it’s from federal investigators and Tesla skeptics who continue to magnify the company’s accidents, all because there is the possibility that a car involved in an accident may have been operating on Autopilot.
Earlier this week, a Model Y was involved in a crash in Michigan. What turned out to be a case of reckless driving was initially blamed on the possibility of Autopilot by mainstream media sources. Unfortunately for them, their credibility regarding Tesla vehicles continues to be chipped away as they sacrifice long-term trustworthiness in the field of electric vehicles for short-term viewership. A Tesla was in fact in an accident in Detroit, and yes, the NHTSA was investigating it. There’s no reason to go any more broad than that.
Unfortunately, Tesla’s rollout of Autopilot and Full Self-Driving has put the company at risk for these types of stories. Anytime a Tesla crashes, the first thing that is planted in people’s minds is the possibility that the car may have been using the semi-autonomous driving functionalities. Why? Human beings are still responsible for operating the car even when the vehicle is utilizing the state-of-the-art technology. It is in no way the car’s fault when the driver is still responsible for the ultimate operation of the vehicle. It’s like blaming a fork for obesity, in my eyes.
While it is unfortunate that there have been deaths due to Autopilot, there are instances where gross negligence from the driver is truly the cause of an accident. For example, in a case where speed and reckless driving is truly the factor, there needs to be an immediate clarification by investigating officers. Perhaps Tesla could provide some clarification to authorities in some kind of system where officers could give the VIN of a vehicle involved, and Tesla could determine immediately whether the car was operating using its driver assistance features. Obviously, there may be a better way. But in the short-term, especially in the early days of the FSD Beta, the credibility of the vehicle’s systems is extremely important for future rollouts.
However, I am also going to admit when things are just plain unfair, and Tesla is a victim of that on so many occasions. I don’t know if that has to do with oil money lining the pockets of MSM, or it is just an attempt to derail a company that has really disrupted the automotive industry. I won’t speculate. There is, of course, a reason for the investigations that could be beneficial. It could just be an attempt to learn from the mistakes of Tesla and pass them along for future instances. Unfortunately, there will be more accidents with self-driving software, and it will go far beyond Tesla. However, Tesla is the only company with a robust self-driving program, so the microscope almost needs to be on them at times, but that’s where this whole situation really gets sticky.