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3 Autopilot Fail Videos Show Why Tesla Owners Still Need to Keep Hands on Wheel

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3 Autopilot Fail Videos Show Why Tesla Owners Still Need to Keep Hands on Wheel

Oct. 21, 2015 is Back to the Future Day, the day in Back to the Future Part II that Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrive in Hill Valley after traveling forward in time from 1985. So it's fitting to be talking about such a futuristic technology.

Last week, Stephen Colbert, a proud Tesla owner, told viewers of the Late Show that he woke up to find his Tesla could now drive itself. Colbert was ecstatic about the new update, which is added to the car through Wi-Fi, in the same way your phone gets updates. "This technology is self-driving towards us whether we like it or not,” said Colbert.

Though the latest update only makes the cars semi-autonomous, Tesla CEO Elon Musk estimates that a fully autonomous car might only be a few years away. Tesla warned on its blog that "the driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car." If a Tesla on autopilot gets in an accident, it will still be the driver's fault. And according to The Guardian, Musk said: “We’re being especially cautious at this early stage, so we’re advising drivers to keep their hands on the wheel just in case. The software is very new.”

So of course, there were bound to be some mishaps. People have been posting videos of Tesla autopilot fails on the Internet.

Here are three such snafus:

1. In this one, the driver got busted by the Florida highway patrol because the autopilot was going 75 mph in a 60-mph zone. I guess his autopilot has a bit of a lead foot.

2. This "proud Tesla owner," who says he still considers it the best car he's ever owned, almost had a head on collision with an oncoming car. He explains how it happened in the description of his video.

3. In this video, the autopilot works perfectly, until the car got off the highway...

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A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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