Tesla’s pure-electric Roadster, Model S and Model X are reasonably high-tech vehicles, so it should come as no surprise to any casual observer — and definitely not to any owner — that they track basic information like a driver’s speed, GPS location and various other inputs like steering wheel rotation and throttle position. That hasn’t stopped one California driver from claiming that a Model X crashed itself into a building under the control of Tesla’s Autopilot, despite Tesla having plenty of data to the contrary.
Electrek originally reported a 5-day-old Model X crashing at high speed into a building, with the owner taking to the official Tesla Motors forums to explain that the accident was — apparently — caused by the car’s autopilot unexpectedly taking control and applying full acceleration:
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 airbags deployed and my wife’s arms have burn marks as a consequence. This could have easily been a fatal accident if the car’s wheels were not turned slightly to the left. If they were straight, it would have gone over the planters and crashed into the store in front of the parking stall and injured or killed the patrons. The acceleration was uncontrollable, seemed maximum and the car only stopped because it hit the building and caused massive damage to the building. This is a major problem and Tesla should stop deliveries and investigate the cause of this serious accident.
Tesla’s response, though, seems to completely contradict the owner’s 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.
The Model X’s comprehensive data logs, which include information on whether actions like accelerator input were taken under computer control or by a physical press of the accelerator pedal, show that Autopilot was not enabled during or before the accident. Jalopnik puts the situation bluntly in saying that “the obvious suggestion is that… the owner doesn’t want to accept responsibility for the accident.
That hasn’t stopped the owner from releasing another statement denying responsibility and pushing blame back towards Tesla, though, in what seems like a completely clueless denial of the cold, hard power of data:
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.