Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Police probe whether Autopilot feature was on in Tesla crash

Police probe whether Autopilot feature was on in Tesla crash Police probe whether Autopilot feature was on in Tesla crash
Nellie Chapman | 15 May, 2018, 16:47

Police said on Monday that the driver, who suffered a broken ankle, said she had been using Autopilot before the crash.

Police are investigating whether a Tesla sedan's semi-autonomous Autopilot feature was engaged when it rear-ended a fire department truck in Utah.

Witnesses said the Tesla vehicle did not brake prior to impact, the police said in a statement, adding it was unknown if the autopilot feature in the Model S was engaged at the time. The driver of the fire truck was evaluated for whiplash but was not checked into the hospital.

On Twitter, co-founder Elon Musk said it was "super messed up" that the incident was garnering public attention, while thousands of accidents involving traditional automobiles "get nearly no coverage".

Also on Monday, Tesla said its highest-ranking engineer would take a leave of absence and CEO Elon Musk formally announced the restructuring he had previously hinted about on Tesla's freakish first-quarter earnings conference call.

"What's actually fantastic about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60 m.p.h. and the driver only broke an ankle", he added. "An impact at that speed usually results in severe injury or death".

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was not investigating the Utah crash, and Tesla said it had not yet received auto data and did not yet know the facts, including whether Autopilot was engaged. Two teens were later killed, a third injured, in a Florida crash in which their Model S sedan's battery pack caught fire after a crash. The 18 year-old driver slammed into a concrete wall, and the vehicle burst into flames, trapping the occupants inside. Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving unit, said on Sunday that Matthew Schwall had joined from Tesla, where he was its main technical contact with U.S. safety investigators. In March, a Tesla Model X SUV crashed on a California highway, killing the driver, and investigators are looking into the performance of the semi-autonomous driving system in that crash.

In April, Musk was asked by "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King, "what's the goal of having autopilot if you still have to put your hands on the wheel?"

"The system worked as described, which is that it's a hands-on system".

"To ensure that Tesla is well prepared for the future, we have been undertaking a thorough reorganization of our company" Musk said in a company-wide email.

"As a reminder for drivers of semi-autonomous vehicles, it is the driver's responsibility to stay alert, drive safely, and be in control of the vehicle at all times", Winkler added.

The investigation into the crash in Utah is ongoing, police said.

Schwall had been Tesla's director of field performance engineering, according to his LinkedIn page, which said he served as Tesla's primary technical contact with safety regulatory agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.