A tragic accident involving a Tesla, in which two people died, sparked a violent reaction. Despite false speculation about the involvement of Tesla Autopilot, this information has been refuted. The car could not be controlled by Autopilot for a number of reasons, the main one being that FSD was not purchased for the car.
On April 17, 2021, two passengers died in a Tesla Model S crash. Police said no one was sitting in the driver's seat. "I can tell you our investigators are certain no one was in the driver's seat at the time of the crash," told Constable Mark Herman, the head of the Harris County Police CNN.
This statement by the police provoked a stormy wave of accusations towards Tesla and its Autopilot function. A number of major news outlets have released dozens of articles with loud headlines that contain speculation about the incident and the involvement of Autopilot in it. However, respected and experienced journalists did not take the time to investigate whether Autopilot could actually be involved in this.
According to the description of the incident, the car entered a corner at high speed, lost control and crashed into a tree, resulting in a fire. The statement by the police that no one was driving initially makes it clear that the Tesla was not being driven by Autopilot. With Autopilot activated, the driver's hands are required to be on the steering wheel, and if they are not there, the car starts to slow down and eventually comes to a complete stop. Another factor was that this road did not have lane lines, which means that Autopilot could not be activated. In addition, if the seat belt is unfastened while driving (which some believe may have happened in this situation), a vehicle controlled by Autopilot will stop immediately.
Having knowledge of this should have spurred any journalist to clarify the situation in an article, instead of manipulating the opinion of readers, tilting them towards thinking that the crashed car was controlled by Autopilot and that this function is not safe. Once again, the media took advantage of the situation to tarnish Tesla's name.
These events forced Tesla's CEO Elon Musk to intervene and make a public statement that finally clarified the situation and removed any accusations or speculation that Autopilot was involved in the accident. According to Musk, the data showed that the Model S did not have a FSD function, which means that the Autopilot function is not available in it.
Your research as a private individual is better than professionals @WSJ!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2021
Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD.
Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have.
© 2021, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.