Tesla released more details on the fatal Texas crash that captivated the media last week.
While Tesla has released more information following an investigation with local authorities, there are still many unanswered questions.
On April 17, a strange and tragic accident in a Tesla occurred in Spring, Texas, near Houston.
A Tesla Model S missed a turn, struck a tree, and caught fire – leaving the two people inside dead. The owner of the Model S, a local doctor and his friend.
The crash made national news and it was reported to be a ‘Driverless Tesla Crash’ because police said they believed no one was driving the vehicle.
This statement was allegedly based on the bodies found in the front passenger seat and back seat, as well as a comment from a family member that the driver may have jumped into the back seat.
Tesla does not have autonomous vehicles on the road where drivers can jump in the backseat, but many have speculated that Tesla’s autopilot driver assistance functions could have been involved.
CEO Elon Musk was quick to comment that the data showed Autopilot was not engaged and could not have been engaged on the road where the crash happened and criticized the media for suggesting it could have be the case.
Both the NTSB and NHTSA have launched investigations into the crash.
Now Tesla has commented in more detail than Musk’s short tweet from last week.
On a conference call about Tesla’s first quarter 2021 results, Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, commented:
“We did a study with authorities over the past week to understand what happened in this particular crash and what we learned from it was that the Autosteer did not and could not engage on road conditions as it was designed and adaptive cruise control only engaged when the driver was buckled up and traveling above 5mph, and it only accelerated to 30 mph over the distance before the car crash.
In addition, the car’s adaptive cruise control decelerated and came to a stop after the driver’s seat belt was unbuckled. it is likely that someone was indeed in the driver’s seat and all seat belts after the collision were unbuckled.
The Tesla executive also confirmed that Tesla could not recover the SD card with more data or video from the crash.
The authorities are still working on it and investigations are ongoing.
Okay, that’s a much better response from Tesla than what Elon said, but it’s still confusing.
First of all, Autopilot was involved in this drive (not the crash apparently). Maybe not Autosteer, but Tesla advertised TACC, its traffic-sensitive cruise control, as an autopilot feature.
Now that doesn’t mean he was involved in the crash, but it does explain a few things.
It appears the driver tried to activate the autopilot with adaptive cruise control, but only the cruise control could get up, and then unbuckled his seat belt – presumably to jump into the backseat as indicated by a Member of the family.
Therefore, it seems that the theory that they went by car to “test autonomous functionality” is a real possibility even though Tesla’s autopilot functionality should not be described as “autonomous driving” and it seems. that the driver assistance features of the autopilot were being misused.
Now it looks like the driver may have misunderstood the capability of Tesla’s autopilot features, as it appears they worked as intended, but were misused if he tried to jump on the back seat.
If the TACC did indeed shut down as described by Moravy, then we still don’t know what happened next that led to the actual crash.
We’re still a long way from having a clear picture of what happened that night, although the event is apparently only a very short drive away and hopefully the NTSB and NHTSA investigation shed more light on this tragic and strange accident.
As for Elon’s comment on the media, there was certainly some misinformation regarding this event, but much of it came from the police, claiming that they did not believe that no one was in charge.
There was speculation in the media that was not smart, but it’s not bad for the media to report what the police were saying about the crash. As long as they share new information as it comes in, I don’t think we can blame them much on that front.
Now, I’m not talking about the few media, like Automotive News for example, that blamed Autopilot squarely. This is obviously bad reports.
I got the impression that a lot of the misrepresentation came from misunderstanding autopilot in the media. A public relations department would certainly help on this front.
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