Tesla’s Little Crash In Big China

There was another crash, involving Tesla. This time in Beijing and on the other side of the world – in the USA, autopilot saved a man from a certain death.

Once more we have a driver who claims he was on autopilot option at the moment of the crash, and unlike the last time, Tesla Motors agrees and we have a dashboard video to verify the crash.

Very similar to the crash from three months ago in Switzerland.

The two accidents mentioned above were minor ones. There were no injured participants and damage on cars was minimal. But there is that word “autopilot”.

It Forced Tesla To Remove the “Autopilot”?

As reports say, the owner of the vehicle in the newest incident claims that sellers sold the car with the tagline “self-driving”. That is the main problem. It went so far, that Tesla had to remove the phrase “autopilot” and the Chinese expression for “self-driving” out from the website in China. Allegedly, in the most recent posts by “Associated Press”, Tesla’s spokesman said that the removal of the “phrase” or “phrases” was a mistake and that it will be restored. Additionally:”The company said it did revise some language on the site to make it clearer to drivers that Autopilot is a driver-assist system and not a self-driving system”.

 Tesla Model S at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition
Tesla Model S at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition

What Happened?

The incident happened on the freeway. Tesla was moving on the far left lane, but unfortunately, some vehicle broke down on that same lane, and the owner had to park it on the very edge of that lane. The broken car was far enough to the left, to place itself on (as it looks like) blind corner for Tesla’s sensors. It looks like the blind corner because Tesla Model S had the exact same problem of detecting an obstacle three months ago, in very similar conditions.


It seems like the sensors for the front left corner got downgraded because of the incoming traffic from that direction.

The car was unable to detect parked vehicle and grazed it, leaving a big noticeable mark on the car’s body and side mirrors, damaging itself in that process. Luckily there were no injured passengers nor drivers.

That was the first incident of that kind in China, but it happened after the fatal accident which had happened in Florida on May 7th. That burden would have been much easier for Tesla to handle, only if people understood the manual and actual meaning of “autopilot”.

Lost In Translation

The problem is not only in understanding that autopilot is not autonomous driving but in translation for certain words. Tesla’s spokeswoman sent an email to “Reuters” in which she tried to hint a problem:”At Tesla, we are continuously making improvements, including to translations. We have been in the process of addressing any discrepancies across languages for many weeks.

Tesla car accident in china damage front

Timing had nothing to do with current events or articles.” Allegedly, “autopilot” and the expression used for self-driving “zidong jiashi” are the main problems, because, in China, people obviously take that really seriously and to the letter. Because of that, we cannot see those expressions on the main Tesla’s website in China. Instead of those expressions, Tesla now uses some expression which translates roughly to “self-assisted driving”.

Autopilot In News

There aren’t many stories which get the media coverage like news about Teslas. Whether it’s a story about the rise or a story about a fall, every single media rushes into it like it is the greatest treasure. In the last couple of months, those stories about the fall somehow had gotten above the surface more often. They act as a shadow over technological accomplishments, industry has achieved in the last decade. The main objective, many storytellers try to spawn as a breakthrough story, is very often built around the autopilot option – a small detail or a feature this car has.

Responsible Driver

Every now and then, that feature, that technology, makes mistakes and drivers are there to correct those mistakes by holding their hands near the steering wheel. In the end, “autopilot option” is just there to help you as a driver. It can change lanes, act as an obstacle avoidance assistant, adjust the vehicle speed based on the speed of other vehicles and look for the best parking space and automatically park if needed. It is an advanced version of cruise control and it is not the substitute for a driver in spite the fact that it can actually drive on its own if driver plots a course.

Tesla autopilot accident in China

Tesla Saved A Life?!

The self-driving part is in “beta phase” and as such cannot be considered as safe. The company was pretty clear about that. In the mist of that “witch hunt,” there was an article reported by “ZD net”. The article was published on August 9th. Allegedly, a man named Joshua Neally was traveling in his Tesla from Springfield, Missouri to Branson.

In the middle of his trip, he experienced sharp pain in his stomach and instead of stopping on the side of the road and calling help, he plotted a course to the nearest hospital (20 miles away) and turned “autopilot option” on. The car drove him safely to the hospital and the man just had to park the car and check himself into the hospital. Joshua suffered from pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lungs) which is very dangerous if it is not treated immediately. Tesla Model X actually saved a life! That is a big news.