[UPDATED] Tesla Autopilot being blamed for a Minnesota accident

Auto / Tech
Tesla Autopilot

CBS 4 reports that Clark was approaching an intersection when he decided to engage the Autopilot feature and that is when the vehicle accelerated sending it off the road.

Tesla Autopilot has been praised by many for helping to avoid accidents but it’s also been accused of causing them. If you’re not familiar with Tesla Autopilot, it’s Tesla’s autonomous driving feature that is designed to assist the driver of the vehicle. In this Minnesota case, officials claim* that the Autopilot feature on the Tesla driven by 58-year-old David Clark accelerated suddenly causing the Tesla to rollover. CBS 4 reports that Clark was approaching an intersection when he decided to engage the Autopilot feature and that is when the vehicle accelerated sending it off the road.

*UPDATE (07/17/2017 10:52EST): First, we’d like to make a correction to this story. We initially wrote that officials claim that the Autopilot feature was at fault. That was incorrect, it was the driver who claims Autopilot was involved in the accident.

A Tesla spokesperson reached out to us with a statement you can read below:

“We are glad the driver and passengers are safe. 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 that Autopilot, which has been found by NHTSA to reduce accident rates by 40%, worked other than as designed. Every time a driver engages Autopilot, they are reminded of their responsibility to remain engaged and to be prepared to take immediate action at all times, and drivers must acknowledge their responsibility to do so before Autopilot is enabled.”

UPDATE #2 (07/17/2017 15:40EST): Elon Musk has posted a Tweet about this matter, it seems the driver has taken his statement back that Autopilot was to blame.

ORIGINAL STORY CONTINUED

 

Tesla is very careful about its Autopilot feature warning drivers against misuse and use of the system. While Tesla’s autonomous driving feature can be used for some very cool things, Tesla notes that operators of the vehicle should always remain alert no matter what. In this case, there’s probably a lot more investigation that is needed and Tesla will likely be sending out their own team to check this out.

It is important to note that Tesla disables Autopilot by default and requires explicit acknowledgement that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase before it can be enabled. When drivers activate Autopilot, the acknowledgment box explains, among other things, that Autopilot “is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times,” and that “you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using it.

Additionally, every time that Autopilot is engaged, the car reminds the driver to “Always keep your hands on the wheel. Be prepared to take over at any time.” The system also makes frequent checks to ensure that the driver’s hands remain on the wheel and provides visual and audible alerts if hands-on is not detected. It then gradually slows down the car until hands-on is detected again.

In a previous Tesla Autopilot incident, a man was killed when his Tesla collided with a tractor-trailer. In that case, it was found that at least seven warnings from the vehicle were ignored.

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  Source: CBS 4 Minnesota
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