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Crash with Autopilot enabled wasn’t Autopilot’s fault, Tesla says [UPDATED]

September 29th, 2016 at 1:04 PM
Tesla Autopilot Crash

With more drivers taking advantage of Tesla’s Autopilot software than ever before, we’re starting to see a discernible increase in the number of Autopilot related mishaps. The latest incident comes to us by way of Germany where a driver on the famed Autobahn crashed his Model S into the back of a bus.

The Model S driver claims that he had Autopilot engaged at the time of the crash and explicitly blames the software for the incident. Notably, the driver received a few bumps and bruises but ultimately managed to escape without any serious injuries. Meanwhile, all of the passengers on the bus were unscathed.

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According to a report from Electrek, the Model S driver was using Tesla’s Autosteer feature when the incident occurred. Notably, the driver says that his hands were either close to or on the wheel at the time of the crash. This is worth highlighting because Tesla advises drivers to keep their hands just above the steering wheel even when Autopilot is engaged. Inevitably, Tesla will review the car’s logs and will release a statement as to whether or not Autopilot was engaged or not.

The most recent Autopilot-related crash comes at an interesting time for Tesla. Just a week ago, the company rolled out version 8.0 of its Autopilot software, an update which introduced a sweeping UI overhaul and a number of significant safety and performance improvements. As Tesla detailed earlier this month, Tesla Autopilot 8.0 relies more heavily upon the car’s radar units to detect impending obstacles in the road.

“We’re making much more effective use of radar,” Musk said during a conference call a few weeks ago. “It will be a dramatic improvement in the safety of the system done entirely through software.”

At this point, there’s no indication of the Model S driver in Germany was using the most recent version of Tesla’s Autopilot software or not.

Update 6:20 PM ET: Tesla has contacted BGR with a statement on the above crash, which refutes some details of Electrek‘s original reporting:

“We have spoken to our customer, who confirmed that Autopilot was functioning properly and that his use of Autopilot was unrelated to the accident. We’re glad that he’s safe.”
Electrek has since updated with another source, who claims that the Tesla was moving forward in its lane, and it was the bus that changed lane, not the Tesla. If that proves to be true, it seems that the accident was the fault of the human, not the computer.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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