Tesla Autopilot Saves Pedestrians by Braking on Its Own

Source: India Times post

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Time and again, Tesla Autopilot has faced scrutiny on account of accidents in which an unwarranted and blatant blame is put on the autonomous driving system. Not often though, does the self-driving system by Tesla gain headlines for saving pedestrians by its own. It seems like the Tesla Autopilot has been doing so quietly, to the count of at least tens to hundreds per day.

At least that is what Andrej Karpathy, Tesla’s head of AI and computer vision, has to say. In a new presentation at the Scaled Machine Learning Conference, Karpathy has presented videos of Tesla’s Autopilot avoiding Tesla cars from colliding with inattentive pedestrians, thanks to its emergency braking feature.

The videos are impressive. Captured through Tesla cars’ integrated dashcam, the videos show instances wherein the cars were just about to hit negligent pedestrians but did not.

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What we see in the video (starting @3:25) is the emergency braking feature in action, which forms a part of a plethora of safety features that Tesla includes in all its cars with its semi-autonomous driver-assist system.

Interestingly, Karpathy mentions that the cars seen in the video were not necessarily in AutoPilot mode when the incidents occurred. As per him, the software continuously monitors the environment around the car and such safety features just swing into action when they see an anomaly.

Karpathy hails the system to have acted tens and hundreds of times in a day across the Tesla cars in use.

“We see a lot of these — tens to hundreds of these per day where we are actually avoiding a collision and not all of them are true positive, but a good fraction of them are,” he said.

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The demonstration of the vehicle’s emergency braking system in real-life videos comes as a stark reminder of the true purpose of the system – to avoid human errors and enhance safety on the roads. Recently, Tesla was also hinted to release an update for Autopilot that will help the cars stop at red signals on their own. With Tesla applying machine learning to the system in order to improve it further, it is only a matter of time till we see a completely autonomous driving system in one of Tesla cars.

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