The recent story of a Model X with Autopilot engaged crashing into a concrete median may not be what it appears to be. After checking the pertinent logs, Tesla issued a statement to the Detroit News stating that there is “no data to suggest that Autopilot was engaged at the time” of the crash.
“Anytime there is a significant accident, Tesla receives a crash detection alert,” the company further added. “As is our practice with all collisions, we immediately reached out to the customer to make sure he was safe. Until the customer responds, we are unable to further investigate.”
The clarification comes at a critical time for Tesla as the company now faces a deluge of questions about its Autopilot software. Just last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) said that it was opening up an investigation into a fatal Model S crash involving Tesla’s Autopilot software so that it can “examine the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash.”
For what it’s worth, Tesla in a blog post on the matter made a point of noting that the May 7 crash involving a tractor-trailer was the “first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated.” In contrast, Tesla added that “among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles.”
Incidentally, we recently highlighted how a simple truck design tweak involving side guards could have perhaps prevented the fatal Tesla Model S crash.