Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving system is being blamed in a rollover crash in Minnesota that injured five.
Update: According to a report from Electrek, the driver of the vehicle has recanted his story saying that he had disengaged the Autopilot system prior to the rollover crash. “To the best of my recollection I had engaged the autopilot system but then I had disengaged it by stepping on accelerator,” he said in an email to the Kandiyohi county sheriff, obtained by Electrek. The original story can be seen below.
According to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office, the driver of the vehicle, 58-year old David Clark, was approaching an intersection when he turned the Autopilot system on, causing the car accelerate suddenly and veer off the road. The vehicle ended up on its roof in a marsh with all five occupants sustaining minor injuries.
Tesla’s Autopilot function is considered an SAE Level 2 autonomous system, meaning the car will accelerate and steer on its own, but the driver is expected to remain alert and intervene if necessary. In an emailed statement to Electrek, Tesla said it has yet to establish whether or not the Autopilot function was actually turned on at the time of the accident. The company also noted it is still the driver’s responsibility to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle when Autopilot is engaged.
“We are glad the driver and passengers are safe,” the statement read. “We are working to establish the facts of the incident and have offered our full cooperation to the local authorities. We have not yet established whether the vehicle’s Autopilot feature was activated, and have no reason to believe that Autopilot, which has been found by NHTSA to reduce accident rates by 40 percent, worked other than as designed.”
“Every time a driver engages Autopilot, they are reminded of their responsibility to remain engaged and to be prepared to take immediate action at all times, and drivers must acknowledge their responsibility to do so before Autopilot is enabled. ”
In previous instances where Autopilot was blamed for causing a crash, Tesla was able to pull the data logs from the car and determine that it was the driver’s fault for either ignoring alerts or removing their hands from the steering wheel. It’s not year clear if Tesla was able to recover the data logs from this crash.