Tesla Admits That Autopilot Feature Called “Adaptive Cruise Control” Was Engaged In Fatal Texas Wreck
Despite Elon Musk’s insistence last week that “data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled” during the fatal April 17 wreck that killed two men in a Tesla, the company admitted on Monday that “one of Autopilot’s features was active” during the crash, according to CNN.
On Monday’s conference call, Lars Moravy, the company’s Vice President of Vehicle Engineering, responded to a question about the wreck, noting that while Autosteer was not active, the car’s adaptive cruise control was:
“In that vein, we did a study with them over the past week to understand what happened in that particular crash and what we have learned from that effort was that Autosteer did not and could not engage on the road condition that as it was designed.
Our adaptive cruise control only engaged when the driver was buckled and above 5 miles per hour, and it only accelerated to 30 miles per hour with the distance before the car crashed. As well, adaptive cruise control disengaged the car fully to complete to a stop when the driver’s seat belt was unbuckled.
Through further investigation of the vehicle and the accident remains, we instructed the car with NTSB and we saw in the local police and were able to find that the steering wheel was indeed deformed, so it was leading to a likelihood that someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash and all seat belts post-crash were found to be unbuckled.”
Both traffic-aware cruise control and Autosteer are part of Autopilot’s suite of assistance features, the report said. “Traffic-aware cruise control matches the speed of the car to surrounding traffic, while Autosteer assists in steering in clearly marked lanes,” CNN reported.
Bryan Reimer, the associate director of the New England University Transportation Center at MIT, said: “The general understanding of Autopilot is that it’s one feature, but in reality it is two things bolted together.”
On the same call, Musk accused the media of “massive and deceptive clickbait headline campaigns on safety of Autopilot.”
Recall, days ago we noted that federal investigators were still in the midst of gathering new “information” in an ongoing probe of the fatal wreck that left two men dead, Reuters reported late last week.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said last week: “We are following this very closely,” before telling reporters that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) special crash investigation team “is still gathering facts and information” and is in touch with Tesla and police.
Police, NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, the report noted.
Also last week, we noted that Consumer Reports dropped a bombshell, independently corroborating the notion that Tesla Model Ys can drive themselves with no one in the drivers seat.
Consumer Reports said it could “easily get the car to drive even with no one in the driver’s seat,” according to CNBC. The auto reviewer said it was able to trick the system by putting a weighted chain on the steering wheel and keeping the seatbelt buckled.
Consumer Reports’ senior director of auto testing, Jake Fisher, told CNBC: “In our test, the system not only failed to make sure the driver was paying attention — it couldn’t even tell if there was a driver there at all.”
Consumer Reports also said that Tesla’s Autopilot can operate where there is no lane lines, which was the case in the Houston wreck.
“Any system that looks at lane lines can be tricked. They may see something as a lane line that is not, like a car strip, a curb may be interpreted as landline and so on.” Fisher continued: “Tesla is falling behind other automakers like GM and Ford that use technology to make sure the driver is looking at the road on models with advanced driver assist systems.”
Additionally last week, several Senators “raised questions about Tesla safety” in a new letter to the NHTSA. Senators Blumenthal and Markey expressed concerns about a “possible emerging pattern” of safety concerns – to which we reply: where have you been the last 2 years?
We also noted last week that one of the men who died in the fiery Houston Tesla wreck that we had been reporting on had been identified as 59-year-old Dr. William Varner. Varner was a doctor at the local Memorial Hermann Health System.
Mark Herman, Harris County Constable Precinct 4, told Reuters last week that the police were serving search warrants on Tesla to secure data from the wreck.
He was responding to a tweet by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who said, “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled.”
Herman appeared quite skeptical at the time: “If he is tweeting that out, if he has already pulled the data, he hasn’t told us that” Herman told Reuters. “We will eagerly wait for that data.”
“We have witness statements from people that said they left to test drive the vehicle without a driver and to show the friend how it can drive itself,” Herman said according to the Reuters report.
And now, of course, we know what we knew then: Elon Musk was apparently just doing emergency PR. No wonder China has called the company “arrogant”.
Wed, 04/28/2021 – 15:57