NHTSA is investigating the most recent crash in which Autopilot is being blamed.

Just yesterday we brought you the news about that Tesla Model X that went rogue and crashed on a highway in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, nobody was injured, but the driver found it appropriate to blame Telsa, claiming that the Autopilot function was engaged at the time of the crash. When that news went live yesterday, there had been very little development since the crash, but now things are starting to come together quicker than expected.

The first fatal incident involving Tesla’s Autopilot is already under investigation, but now that this new accident, which also had the potential to be fatal, is being investigated by the NHTSA too – Apparently the NHTSA didn’t want to waste any time on this one. For now, we know that the driver is claiming the Autopilot system was engaged, but Tesla takes a very different stance on the situation.

According to AutoblogGreen, a Tesla spokesperson gave the media outlet the following statement regarding the crash: “Tesla received a message from the car on July 1st indicating a crash event, but logs were never transmitted. We have no data at this point to indicate that Autopilot was engaged or not engaged. This is consistent with the nature of the damage reported in the press, which can cause the antenna to fail. As we do with all crash events, we immediately reached out to the customer to confirm they were ok and offer support, but were unable to reach him. We have since attempted to contact the customer three times by phone without success. It is not possible to learn more without access to the vehicle’s onboard logs.”

That statement could be considered Tesla’s first step in defense, but I think the most important point of interest here is that the NHTSA has already started an investigation into a crash that yielded no injury to anyone involved. So, what does that mean for Tesla and its Autopilot system?

Continue reading for the full story.

What it Means

The fact that so many Tesla owners are using the Autopilot system means there are obviously going to be accidents, especially considering the system is still in development. Furthermore, a lot of people disagree with the whole “public beta” nature of the system in its current state. With as fast as the NHTSA jumped on investigating this most recent accident, it seems that the NHTSA is starting to feel the same distrust that a lot of non-Tesla owners have of the whole system. So, what if it turns out that Autopilot was in use at the time of this accident, and the system literally crashed the Model X for whatever reason?

Well, if it turns out to be a system fault, Tesla will obviously be quick to issue a “fix” that would prevent such a thing from happening again. That still doesn’t change the fact that the Autopilot system is still in the testing and development phase and, while drivers of the car agree to the “terms and conditions” of using it, what about the other people on the road? Should more accidents occur in the future, with the Autopilot system found to be at fault, the powers that be could require Tesla to deactivate the Autopilot system and do it the old fashioned way: in-house. There are plenty of manufacturers testing Autonomous capabilities on public roads, but Tesla is putting these advanced but unrefined capabilities in the hands of untrained people. On top of that, as a human race, we have this uncanny ability to throw caution to the wind when it comes to following instructions or rules regarding things that could hurt us or others.

Is the NHTSA or any other government organization considering banning the use of Tesla’s Autopilot right now? Probably not, but should more fatal accidents occur, and if the general population continues to prove that we’re not to be trusted with technology, it is quite possible. What do you think about this? Should Tesla Owners be able to activate the Autopilot feature this early in its development, or should the system be blocked until it can be refined and perfected? I, for one, don’t think the system is ready.

Source: Autoblog

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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