A rollover crash in Minnesota was initially blamed on Tesla’s Autopilot feature, after the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office told local media that Autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash.
But while details regarding the incident are still emerging, the driver has now clarified that he “lost control” of his Tesla and accelerated into a turn, causing the car to go flying off the road and roll over.
At the time of the crash, the Tesla was occupied by a total of five passengers, none of whom sustained any serious injuries.
Tesla will undoubtedly make an effort to examine the car’s logs to see exactly what happened, but in the meantime, the company was quick to express doubt that Autopilot was the root cause of the crash.
In a statement provided to the Star Tribune, Tesla relayed the following:
[We are] working to establish the facts of the incident and have offered our full cooperation to the local authorities. We have not yet established whether the vehicle’s autopilot feature was activated and have no reason to believe [it] worked other than as designed.
While it’s easy to draw quick and sweeping conclusions anytime a Tesla is involved in an accident, it’s worth noting that there have been a handful of incidents involving Tesla crashes where a driver will blame the Autopilot feature before a subsequent investigation reveals that the feature wasn’t engaged at the time of the crash.
And funny enough, the aforementioned accident appears to be yet another example of this phenomenon. In an email obtained by Electrek, the driver now claims that Autopilot wasn’t even activated at the time of the incident.
To the best of my recollection I had engaged the autopilot system but then I had disengaged it by stepping on accelerator. I then remember looking up and seeing the sharp left turn which I was accelerating into. I believe we started to make the turn but then felt the car give way and lose its footing like we hit loose gravel. That was the feeling that I was trying to describe to you that I had lost control of the vehicle. The next thing I know tall grass is whipping past the windshield and we were traveling at an odd angle in the ditch and then flipped over the right side and ended up on the roof.
So there you have it. The biggest takeaway from this is that Autopilot is still a relatively new technology and any reports of it being the direct cause of an accident should’t be taken as gospel until more information is unearthed.