The autopilot on the Tesla Model X proved a lifesaver during Storm Dennis.
It’s easy to be wary of automated features on cars. Anti-lock brakes. Auto-lane correct. Adaptive cruise control. Auto-emergency braking. Some feature on our hire cars and vans. Some don’t. But all of them have probably caused you to question just how good they really are at one time or another.
It’s safe to say the autopilot on the Tesla Model X has safely passed the test.
Laurence Sanderson was driving his wife and three children along Dorset’s country lanes when Storm Dennis brought a 400-year old oak tree crashing down on their car. In an astonishing fluke, Josh Whitelock and Kitty McConnell were driving their Tesla Model X in the opposite direction at precisely the same moment the tree came down.
Both of the cars’ occupants escaped serious injury when the autopilots activated and slammed on the brakes. The tree caused serious damage to both cars, but it avoided the occupants when, without the autopilot, it would have killed them.
“Another second and we would have been crushed as I wouldn’t have been able to react in time,” financial consultant Lawrence told The Mirror. “The car undoubtedly saved our lives. We would have been killed without it.”
Kitty tweeted a thank you to Tesla founder Elon Musk, saying “Hey Elon Musk, your car saved my life.” The tech entrepreneur responded by saying “Glad you’re all ok!”
Your car saved my life.. and by boyfriends.. and my mothers.. and a family of five.
Thank you https://t.co/UuQTNmetuZ
— Kitty McConnell (@Kitty_McConnell) February 18, 2020
Josh said: “I was expecting to turn around and see my girlfriend and her mother impaled by branches but incredibly that wasn’t the case. They were both ok apart from a bit of whiplash. It was a miracle we all survived.”
Safer all round
The Tesla X is an £86,000 vehicle and clearly it’s not everyone who can afford such luxury (or impressive safety features). But as every year passes, more features that were once the preserve of prestige brands and F1 cars cascades down to the sort of cars and vans you might rent every day – and that means every year our rental vehicles become safer and safer.