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- Tesla driver Dave Key continues to use Autopilot even after he got into an accident with it, The New York Times reported.
- Key said he believes Autopilot and Full Self-driving have the potential to save lives.
- The 69-year-old crashed into a police car while using Autopilot in 2018.
Tesla driver Dave Key was quick to defend the electric-car maker’s self-driving software even years after he got into an accident using its driver-assist feature, Autopilot, according to a recent report from The New York Times.
The 69-year-old former software entrepreneur told the publication that despite the accident he believes Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving beta software has the potential to save lives, adding that even deadly crashes shouldn’t detract from the broader vision of autonomous vehicles.
“As a society, we choose the path to save the most lives,” he told The New York Times.
Insider was unable to get in contact with Key for a comment. A spokesperson from Tesla did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.
In 2018, Key was driving home from the dentist when his 2015 Tesla Model S crashed into the back of a parked police car while using Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist feature, The Times reported.
Key’s car was totaled and no one was injured by the accident, The Times reported. But, it’s an issue other Autopilot users have faced. Last year, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) upgraded its investigation into over a dozen Tesla vehicles that crashed into emergency vehicles while using Autopilot. The agency has said the driver-assist feature has trouble identifying parked vehicles.
Tesla’s Autopilot feature is marketed as a helpful feature for driving on highways that can steer, accelerate and brake the car automatically within its lane. While Autopilot is built into all current Teslas, Full-Self-Driving, or FSD, is a beta add-on feature that can be bought for $15,000 or via a $199 monthly subscription. The beta feature enables the vehicle to automatically change lanes, enter and exit highways, recognize stop signs and traffic lights, and park. Both programs still require a licensed driver to monitor the system at all times.
The Tesla driver said he had a “false sense of security” during the incident and was distracted by the scenery. But since the accident, Key has bought three more Teslas and continues to use both Autopilot and FSD, adding the software has gotten better about monitoring driver’s attention on the road through a nag feature that tracks the pressure on the steering wheel and the driver’s eye movement.
The New York Times reporter, who took a ride with Key using FSD, said the Tesla driver nearly got into an accident during their drive when the car pulled across the road and stopped midway through a left turn. Key disengaged the software and completed the turn as a line of cars drove toward the side of the car, the reporter said.
Key isn’t the only Tesla driver to report issues with the software but continue to support Elon Musk’s vision for the company. Insider previously reported that a Tesla driver took a 6,392 mile road trip primarily using Autopilot and FSD and continues to view the program as a “lifesaver” despite encountering bugs in the software.