Autos

Tesla autopilot is making progress: accident rate in second quarter far below last year

According to newly released data, driving with the autopilot system activated in Tesla’s electric cars became even safer in the second quarter of this year. On average, Tesla now announced on its website that every 4.53 million miles driven had an autopilot accident. The quota had been slightly better in the quarter to the end of March 2020, but the new value is far higher than in the same quarter last year and is the second best that Tesla has ever reported.

Tesla fleet ahead – but also newer

The data in the new Tesla safety report refer to the United States. According to this, an average of all cars there had an accident every 479,000 miles in the second quarter of 2020 – a good 9.5 times less often with Tesla autopilot. In addition, according to the manufacturer, it took 2.27 million miles mathematically for a Tesla to have an accident with the safety aids activated as standard. And even if you turn it off, a Tesla accident only happened every 1.56 million miles, three times less than the entire US average.

The last point shows, however, that the comparison between Tesla and all other cars has pitfalls. The Tesla fleet may also prevent accidents due to the good weight distribution, but at least part of its enormous performance works in the other direction. On average, electric cars are also younger, which speaks for fewer mechanical problems. And maybe their owners take better care of them because their Teslas are dear to them (and literally expensive).

Autopilot much better than 2019

It is therefore more meaningful to compare the accident rates for Tesla and other cars over time. And that shows clear progress. In absolute terms, the Tesla quota looked somewhat better in the first quarter of 2020 with one accident per 4.68 million miles under autopilot. But the 4.54 million miles in the second quarter are just below this best value and are above all much better than in the quarter a year ago when an accident happened every 3.27 million miles with the Tesla autopilot activated. In addition, the U.S. comparative number was still slightly higher at 498,000 miles, which resulted in a ratio of 6.5 times fewer accidents under autopilot.

The beginning of the third quarter should bring even more clarity about autopilot progress – and perhaps many new functions as well, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. For the first quarter, Tesla already indicated that there were significantly fewer miles driven and accidents in the United States overall. Coronavirus slowdowns in the west were also likely to have affected the second quarter of the year, with less traffic generally depressing the accident rate.

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