Did the killed inmates mistakenly believe it was activated??
On April 17, two inmates of a Tesla Model S died in Texas. Since the police said that at the time of the accident there was no person in the driver’s seat, it has been assumed that one of the occupants activated the autopilot and relied on the autonomous driving system left the driver’s seat. According to the preliminary investigation report by the US traffic safety agency, this scenario has now become less likely.
According to the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) report, the 2019 Model S P100D was equipped with the autopilot. Tests with a similar vehicle at the scene of the accident showed that the Traffic Aware Cruise Control could be switched on, but the Autosteer function was not available. This means that the autopilot should not have been active, as this requires both an activated Traffic Aware Cruise Control and an activated Autosteer.
The report supports the statements of Elon Musk, who tweeted after the accident that the autopilot could not be activated at the scene of the accident:
Your research as a private individual is better than professionals @WSJ!
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 street did not have.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2021
The NTSB press release does not indicate whether the occupants may have falsely assumed that the autopilot was active. That would be interesting to know because if they had known the autopilot was inactive, they would hardly have left the driver’s seat – unless with suicidal intent. The NTSB report does not yet allow a reliable reconstruction of the course of the accident.
More about the Tesla Autopilot: Tesla autopilot and FSD: Elon Musk promised too much?
Tesla Autopilot drives without a person in the driver’s seat
According to the report, the accident happened very close to the Tesla owner’s residence. Recordings from the house’s security cameras show the Tesla owner getting into the driver’s seat and the front passenger getting into the front passenger seat. The video also shows the two of them slowly driving off. However, the car only drove about 170 meters before it turned off the road in a curve and hit two shafts and a tree.
According to the NTSB, the fire after the accident destroyed the Tesla’s data storage device – therefore no more information can be obtained from it. The damaged data storage module of the restraint system is currently still being evaluated. It could provide information on vehicle speed, acceleration, and the status of seat belts and airbags. Data on accident dynamics and results of toxicological tests on the corpses are also evaluated by the NTSB.
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