Claims crash would have been avoided if Autopilot were turned on.
Tesla’s Autopilot semi-autonomous driving feature has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, but company CEO Elon Musk wants to make it clear that not all Tesla crashes can be blamed on software. In the case of a recent Tesla Model X crash in Pennsylvania, Musk says that Autopilot wasn’t even engaged at the time of the accident.
“Onboard vehicle logs show Autopilot was turned off in Pennsylvania crash,” he said today on Twitter. “Moreover, crash would not have occurred if it was on.”
When the accident first became public, Tesla said in a statement that, “we have no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident.”
The Pennsylvania crash happened earlier this month when Albert Scaglione and his son-in-law were driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Scaglione told police that the car was driving in Autopilot mode when it suddenly struck a guard rail, careened across several lanes, then hit the concrete median and rolled over. Neither occupant was seriously injured in the crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration subsequently opened an investigation into the accident.
The performance of the Tesla Autopilot system has been hotly debated after a man was killed when neither he nor his Model S braked to avoid a collision with a semi-truck trailer. NHTSA is also investigating that accident; the Model S drove under the trailer, killing the driver.
Since then, Tesla has reiterated that Autopilot is an assist system and that drivers should remain alert behind the wheel. Musk has described the system as being in “beta” for the first billion miles of testing, while advocacy group Consumer Reports has urged Tesla to disable and rename Autopilot.