Is the Tesla Autopilot Dangerous for Motorcyclists?

Law Tigers at Thunder in the RockiesAutonomous vehicles are hailed as the next step in driving technology. Experts claim they will make the road safer, and they even claim that these machines will be able to detect motorcycles. That could mean fewer motorcycle accidents, but there is a wrinkle in that plan. Apparently, Tesla is in hot water over its autonomous autopilot system and the danger it poses to motorcyclists.

Could the Tesla Autopilot be Dangerous to Motorcycle Riders?

On July 27th, a woman was riding down the E18 roadway to Drammen, Norway when her motorcycle was struck from behind. She survived the crash, but it sent her to the hospital with severe injuries and caused a major stir in the motorcycle community. That’s because the car that struck her was a Tesla Model S, and it was in autopilot mode.

Authorities at the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations (FEMA) immediately went to work. The organization teamed up with several other motorcycle groups and sent requests for information to Tesla and the Dutch vehicle authority that approved Tesla cars for use in the European Union. They want to know if the Telsa autopilot system was tested to account for motorcycles on the open road, and their concern seems to be justified.

A researcher at Dynamic Research here in the U.S. found that forward collision warning systems fail to properly detect motorcycles in 41 percent of its test cases. FEMA also found more cases of motorcyclists having close encounters with Tesla vehicles running in autopilot mode. So officials are demanding proof that motorcycles were accounted for by Tesla Autopilot developers. Should riders in the United States be worried too?

May 7th saw the first ever autonomous vehicle fatality in Williston, Florida. It was a wakeup call for the entire nation and the auto industry. It proved that we need to be more careful with the development of new technologies, but will car makers take the hint? Keep following your Colorado Law Tigers on this blog to find out.