Tesla's Model S autonomous mode may have saved a life

Model S slams on the brakes after pedestrian steps onto gloomy road

Elon Musk has revealed a letter from a Tesla driver offering an account of the Model S braking in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian.

Musk Tweeted the letter, complete with claim that the incident is confirmed by analysis of the car's logs.

Musk has recently attempted to verify accounts of a fatality which is alleged to have been caused by a Tesla autopilot crash and other accidents supposedly caused by failures in Tesla cars' autonomous driving code. Tesla has pledged to investigate those incidents. While it does so, there's obvious value for Tesla in stories that offer happier versions of what happens when software takes over a car.

Hence Musk's tweet describing an incident in which “ …. last night, 7/16 around 10:30pm when I was driving in Washington DC with my daughter. I was on New York Ave and it was night time, there was a lot of glare from the headlights of oncoming cars, and there was a siren in the distance. We were having trouble figuring out if the siren was coming from behind us or from one of the side roads when a pedestrian stepped out in front of our Model S in the dark with dark clothes and in the middle of the road (not near an intersection).”

“Before I could step on the brakes the beeped (collision warnings) and the picture of a red car came up on my dash,” the letter continues. “The car slammed on the breaks [sic] before I could and we stopped just inches from hitting the pedestrian. I guess that the car thought the pedestrian was another car in front of us?”

As you can see from the Tweet below, the author shared the story specifically to counter recent negative news about autopilot, and praises the Model S' potential to save lives.

“Unfortunately, incidents like this one don’t get written about in the press and most of the time no one is ever aware of how many accidents your safety features may have prevented,” the letter, penned by a “Larry”, continues.

Sorry to disappoint you Larry. Here you are in the press. ®

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