Nowadays, no matter how you spin it, computers are certain to rat you out on your mistakes. At least that’s what happened with a Tesla Model X over the weekend.
Autopilot at fault?
On Saturday, a new Tesla owner made an alarming claim: His Model X SUV had abruptly and unintentionally accelerated itself into a wall while parking, subsequently injuring his wife (who was the driver) and just barely missing pedestrians.
“Our 5 day old Tesla X today while entering a parking stall suddenly and unexpectedly accelerated at high speed on its own climbing over 39 feet of planters and crashing into a building,” the owner, Puzant Ozbag, wrote on the Tesla Motors forums. “The acceleration was uncontrollable, seemed maximum and the car only stopped because it hit the building and caused massive damage to the building.”
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The owner claims that the vehicle has somehow activated its Autopilot feature, the self-driving technology built into Tesla vehicles. Had this been the case, it would have carried with it serious implications for the continued safety of the company’s electric vehicles.
Tesla vehicle logs prove otherwise
Since the incident report, however, Tesla has had a chance to analyze the vehicle’s logs – something that has now become common practice when drivers claim Tesla was the main cause for an accident – and has determined that it was in fact the driver’s actions that caused the accident. Tesla released the following statement:
“We analyzed the vehicle logs which confirm that this Model X was operating correctly under manual control and was never in Autopilot or cruise control at the time of the incident or in the minutes before. Data shows that the vehicle was traveling at 6 mph when the accelerator pedal was abruptly increased to 100%. Consistent with the driver’s actions, the vehicle applied torque and accelerated as instructed. Safety is the top priority at Tesla and we engineer and build our cars with this foremost in mind. We are pleased that the driver is ok and ask our customers to exercise safe behavior when using our vehicles.”
Despite the electric car company’s statement, the Model X owner insists that the vehicle, not his wife’s driving, is at fault. After Tesla released their statement dismissing his claims, Ozbag gave the following statement:
“My wife is a 45-year-old woman with a great driving record. Not and incapacitated driver. She has been going to that center for over 20 years and parking in the same stalls hundreds of times. She knows the difference between brake and accelerator pedal. I am waiting to hear from Tesla whether the accelerator pedal can be depressed by the car electronically similar to gas-powered cars’ pedal being depressed on their own while in cruise control.”
The information Tesla receives from a vehicle offer only a vague picture as to what happened in the moments leading up to, during, and after an accident, but it’s safe to say that the logs provided prove that the owner’s claims that the vehicle’s Autopilot system failing, or the vehicle acting in a way it’s not supposed to, are inaccurate.
The simple fact proved here is that as vehicle technology and automation increases, human error becomes easier to prove. In this case, Tesla has the data to back itself up in defense from drivers that might attempt to shift the blame for their mistakes. Computers can’t tell a lie (at least not yet)!