Elon Musk has sparked a row after suggesting that Tesla’s in-house checks had shown its controversial ‘Autopilot’ driver assistance feature was not responsible for a fiery ‘driverless’ vehicle crash in Texas that left two dead.
Law enforcement authorities are expected to serve warrants to the carmaker on Tuesday to secure data logs from the accident, according to a Reuters report citing a senior police source.
On Saturday night, the fully electric 2019 Tesla Model S caught fire after crashing at speed into a tree near Houston. Two passengers, neither of whom reportedly occupied the driver’s seat, were trapped inside.
After media reports pointed to the ‘Autopilot’ system as a possible cause, Musk tweeted on Monday that “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD,” referring to Tesla’s semi-automated ‘Full Self-Driving’ system that is currently in beta testing.
“Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have,” Musk added. The feature is dependent on vehicle cameras to capture road markers. According to earlier reports, the car had sped off the road after failing to negotiate a curve.
Your research as a private individual is better than professionals @WSJ! Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD.Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2021
The carmaker has access to operational and diagnostic data from its vehicles, which are delivered to company servers at “regular intervals.” It remains uncertain whether investigators will be able to recover any logs from the event data recorder in the vehicle, which was severely burned in the fire that took four hours to extinguish.
Musk’s tweets on Monday were in response to a user’s comments that reports about the crash did “not make sense” since there were “safety measures in place with the Autopilot.”
This doesn’t make sense.There are safety measures in place with the autopilot Seat is weighted tomake sure there is a driver ,hands must be on steering wheel every 10 seconds or it disengages. Autopilot doesn’t go over the speed limits oover limit isi mpossible… Research pls
— Ahmad A Dalhat (@Amart15416132) April 18, 2021
His appreciative response to that tweet elicited mixed reactions, and more questions. One user asked him whether the Autopilot feature was “ever enabled” during the ride. Another user refuted Musk’s claim about the system requiring lane markers with a video clip that appeared to suggest otherwise.
Was Autopilot EVER enabled during the duration of the drive? Big difference if it started on (somehow) & was subsequently/potentially abruptly disengaged vs “never enabled” during drive. Also, older versions allow Autopilot enabling w/o lane lines. What if they were on old ver?
— Meet Kevin (@realMeetKevin) April 20, 2021
Lanes are not required for basic autopilot to be maintained, so long as autopilot is activated when lanes are initially presented. pic.twitter.com/Wq1cizF17o
— Stephen Pallotta (@stephenpallotta) April 19, 2021
“Would it now be sensible for owners to wear fireproof race suits until more research is concluded? Especially as the batteries get bigger and bigger?,” asked a user who said a “car full of batteries” was a “fireball waiting to happen”.
Stuff a car full of batteries, it’s a fire ball waiting to happen, you puncture one of the Tesla batteries and BOOM💥 🔥 🔥 🔥 would it now be sensible for owners to wear fireproof race suits until more research is concluded? Especially as the batteries get bigger and bigger?
— Talented Lady (@Talenteduser) April 20, 2021
Several users defended the carmaker, with many noting that the onus was on the driver. Others labelled media coverage of the crash as biased and one-sided, with one such user claiming her “Tesla is by far the safest vehicle I have EVER owned!”
Thank you for the clarification.🙏Also even if the car was on Autopilot, the onus still lies on the driver. Can’t blame the tool for an ill used craftsmanship. Blaming Tesla is not right. If Tesla is at fault, so is every other car manufacturer ever involved in an accident pic.twitter.com/4hoKAfQM90
— 🪐Ritu Agarawal 🪐 (@ritu_agarawal) April 19, 2021
I’m just gonna say: If regulators keep trying to bone TESLA for stupid, terrible drivers, they’re going to open up ALL car manufacturers to lawsuits when idiots get in wrecks. Placing blame on TESLA for someone else’s failed understanding is akin to claiming a parked car kills.
— Truffle (@truffluscious) April 20, 2021
This is such bullshit if I’m not in the drivers seat manually engaging autopilot it doesn’t turn on!! What is the deal with all this negative publicity!!! My Tesla is by far the safest vehicle I have EVER owned!!
— SOUTHERN DOGE (@doge_southern) April 19, 2021
Tesla is yet to make an official comment about the incident.
Also on rt.com Two killed in ‘driverless’ Tesla, possibly using ‘Autopilot’ feature, as Elon Musk touts company’s safety record
Think your friends would be interested? story!