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The First AutoPilot Related Death Possibly Happened Back in January

The First AutoPilot Related Death Possibly Happened Back in January

Nobody can deny that things have been a little rough for Tesla lately. After than fatal accident back in May, the company has found itself constantly under the microscope by every media outlet on the planet. But, as it turns out, that accident may not have actually been the first fatal accident involving the company’s AutoPilot system. Reports have begun to surface of another fatal accident that occurring in China back in January of 2016.

In this specific accident, there is actually dash cam footage that shows a Model S plowing into the back of a street sweeper on the highway. It’s pretty clear that the Tesla didn’t even try to brake before the accident, but what isn’t clear is whether or not AutoPilot was engaged at the time of the accident. The last accident that occurred in China involving AutoPilot didn’t result in any injuries, but did result in Tesla changing its wording on its Chinese site to remove to words “self-driving.”

As for this accident just coming into the light nine months after it happened, Tesla is currently investigating the situation. Tesla has already released a statement claiming that it couldn’t retrieve log information from the car due to the extensive damage and the driver’s family has yet to supply any information:

“We were saddened to learn of the death of our customer’s son. We take any incident with our vehicles very seriously and immediately reached out to our customer when we learned of the crash. Because of the damage caused by the collision, the car was physically incapable of transmitting log data to our servers, and we, therefore, have no way of knowing whether or not Autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash. We have tried repeatedly to work with our customer to investigate the cause of the crash, but he has not provided us with any additional information that would allow us to do so.”

For now, that is all we know about the incident aside from the fact that the driver’s family has, in fact, filed a lawsuit against Tesla. And, while that may be the case, it may not work out in their favor. The owner’s manual of every Tesla clearly states that the Traffic-Aware Cruise control cannot detect all objections and may not brake for stationary objects when the vehicle is driving at higher speed.

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Updates To Autopilot System Adds New Safety Restrictions

Updates To Autopilot System Adds New Safety Restrictions

Tesla is responding to the spat of accidents being blamed on the autonomous driving technology

Tesla’s Autopilot system has been a lightning rod for the electric car maker, so much so that the recent spat of reported accidents being attributed to the system has put Tesla on the defensive. Now, the company is fighting back with a new restriction for the upcoming v8.0 software update that effectively puts the responsibility back in the driver’s hands.

According to Electrek, the new safety restriction blocks the driver from re-engaging the Autosteer feature of the Autopilot system in the event the system is disengaged because its audio and visual alerts are repeatedly ignored. The feature will only be reactivated if the car is stopped and put in “Park.” The same report indicates that the Autopilot’s other main feature, Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC), will still be available for the duration of the drive.

Considering how specific the restrictions are, it’s easy to see that the updates were made in large part to avoid a repeat of the spat of accidents that have been blamed on the Autopilot system. Now, Tesla owners are being given more responsibility to respond to the visual alerts or risk seeing the feature get disengaged in the middle of their drives. In addition to the new restrictions, the new update is also expected to receive improvements in efficiency and the ability to handle ramp-to-ramp highway driving with the obvious caveat of requiring owners to always remain vigilant to road.

Tesla has not made an announcement on when the new v8.0 software update will arrive, but expect it to arrive sooner than later, especially after Elon Musk was quoted recently as saying that the update is in the final review phase.

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Tesla Charging more for Autopilot Feature

Tesla Charging more for Autopilot Feature

It’s not as bad as it sounds, but the timing is a little questionable

You have to give Tesla some credit. In the face of all the scrutiny surrounding its Autopilot feature, the EV car manufacturer still understands that it’s in the business game and that game is all about making money. So while the company’s announcement of a new 100 kWh battery pack for the Model S and Model X P100D variants understandably grabbed the headlines, Tesla managed to also increase the price of the Autopilot feature from right under our noses.

Whereas the price for the Autopilot system amounted to $2,500 before or $3,000 to be enabled after delivery of the car, Tesla has increased the number to $3,000 and $3,500, respectively. Apparently, the price increase isn’t because of the new sensors that Tesla is reportedly adding for the second-gen version of the system. According to Electrek, a Tesla spokesperson referred to the price increase as nothing more than a “better reflection” of the system’s actual value.

Whether that is the case or not, the timing of the increase is curious given the rash of negative publicity that has been attributed to the Autopilot system. One would think that Tesla would try to keep a low profile on the feature until it sorts out the quirks, thus having a better justification for a price increase. But the company opted to do it now. Similar features aren’t exactly popping up everywhere these days so while the field is still relatively barren compared to what it’s going to be in a few years, a $500 increase isn’t that big of a deal for customers who have spent or are willing to spend north of $60,000 on either a Model S or a Model X.

Skeptics can criticize all they want; at the end of the day, Tesla is still in the money-making business and this 20-percent increase in the price of the Autopilot feature should be a good source of extra revenues for Elon Musk and company. Now about making the system safer for its drivers...

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Tesla Drops "Self-Driving" Phrase On Chinese Website After Reported Autopilot Crash

Tesla Drops "Self-Driving" Phrase On Chinese Website After Reported Autopilot Crash

China 1, Tesla 0

The Chinese auto market is the biggest in the world and it just might also be the most influential. Tesla found that out the hard way when it was forced to acknowledge a mistake it made on its Chinese website describing its Autopilot system as a “self-driving” feature. The terminology has since been scrubbed from the website and replaced with a phrase that more closely translates to “self-assisted driving.”

The brouhaha started when Luo Zhen, a Chinese owner of a Tesla Model S, sideswiped a stopped car along the side of a road when his Model S’s Autopilot system engaged. Luo spoke with Reuters in the aftermath of the incident, calling Tesla and its local sales staff out for misrepresenting the technology’s capabilities by touting its functions using a phrase that translated to “self-driving.” Luo’s claims of misrepresentation were corroborated by other owners of Tesla models in the country, with some, including Luo, even saying that demonstrators took their hands off the steering wheel and then took their feet off the pedals to showcase the system’s capabilities.

Tesla admitted that the crash took place but the normally stubborn automaker was also forced to take the unusual step of acknowledging the mistake it made on its website. A Tesla spokesperson spoke with Reuters after the changes in the website to deny that Luo’s crash and the publicity it generated were the reasons behind the edits. According to the spokesperson, the change was simply part of Tesla’s “ongoing work in improving translations.”

Unfortunately, a spin like that is as obvious as it is blatant. That or the timing of the edits in the wake of the crash’s publicity can be chalked up to a happy coincidence. In any case, Reuters also learned that the electric car maker has reached out to its staff in the country retraining them to inform future customers that the Autopilot system is a “self-assisted technology” and that drivers must always have their hands on the wheel when engaging the system.

It’s unclear if Tesla if going to make a similar move in rephrasing the system’s capabilities in other markets, but the fact that it had to do it in China goes to show how important that market is for the company and any attempts at pissing it off would be bad for business.

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Elon Musk Details Tesla's Semi-Truck, Minibus Plans

Elon Musk Details Tesla’s Semi-Truck, Minibus Plans

Automaker looks to expand its EV and autonomous vehicle network into other modes of transportation

Tesla has just released its second quarter earnings and while there were plenty of relevant details to go radon from CEO Elon Musk’s investor call, one of the more significant pieces of information to come from the call involved Tesla’s plans for an electric semi truck and minibus, including an estimated timetable to have both vehicles unveiled in the “early to mid 2017.”

Musk himself admitted that Tesla’s ideas for these two vehicles are still the equivalent of broad strokes, which means that it still doesn’t have a fleshed-out plan as far as production of the two models are concerned. A lot of the questions that even Tesla is asking itself will likely be answered when prototype versions of the truck and the minibus are unveiled. To the company’s credit, it’s taking these projects very seriously. With the semi-truck, Tesla has tapped former Model S program director, Jerome Guilen to lead the project. In addition to his familiarity with Tesla’s engineering and development methods, Guillen also has a background in developing trucks, having done so in the past as an engineer at Daimler’s truck division and as the man at the helm in the development of the Freightliner Cascadia truck.

As for the minibus plans, Musk addressed those separately when he responded to a rendering of a Volkswagen-inspired minibus that was pieced together by Jalopnik. Turns out, Tesla isn’t necessarily planning to build a public transport in the traditional sense, but a modern electric version of Volkswagen’s Type II Microbus.

Tesla’s goal, it seems, is to have these options available in the event that electric or autonomous technologies become more widely accepted throughout the industry. The truck industry, in particular, is reportedly been considering a shift to EV models for the future. Having fleshed out plans that includes production timetables for both models would give Tesla the advantage of offering something that no other automaker has at this point. It’s an ambitious goal to have considering that these plans were only made public when Musk announced the company’s updated Master Plan last month. Then again, it would be unbecoming of Tesla if its goals aren’t ambitious to begin with.

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Is Tesla Involved in a Cover-Up over the Model X Crash?

Is Tesla Involved in a Cover-Up over the Model X Crash?

Montana driver who crashed his Model X is accusing Tesla of not getting his side of the story

The driver of the Tesla Model X that crashed in Montana while its Autopilot system was engaged has now published an open letter, accusing Tesla of covering up the problems that have plagued the Autopilot system.

According to Electrek, the driver identifies himself as Mr. Pang and claims that he was never able to explain himself to Tesla before the automaker issued its own conclusion that Pang was to blame for the accident that saw the Model X crash into 12 barrier posts after plowing through a safety barrier post. The driver added some pretty harsh words for the company, saying that Tesla was trying to “cover up the lack of dependability of the autopilot system.”

For its part, Tesla has maintained that the accident was all Pang’s fault because data logs showed that the driver’s hands were not on the steering wheel even after multiple warnings. The automaker added Pang was in violation of the terms of agreement between the driver and the automaker on the proper use of the Autopilot system. Apparently, Tesla is requiring everybody who uses the Autopilot system to have at least a small amount of force on the steering wheel so that the system can detect the presence of a driver sitting behind the wheel. Tesla argued that Pang not only had his attention elsewhere when the car’s autopilot system was engaged, but more importantly, his hands were not on the wheel, hence the slow reaction time when the car ended up crashing into the barriers.

While Pang admitted that his hands were not on the wheel, he’s still convinced that the Model X’s Autopilot system crashed by itself, adding fire to the increasing number of cases of Tesla vehicles crashing because of their autonomous driving technology. It’s unclear how this issue will be resolved, but from the look of things, Pang is hoping to to get Tesla on the table to discuss the supposed issues plaguing the company’s Autopilot system. The automaker has yet to issue a new statement addressing Pang’s allegations, but given the serious nature of the driver’s accusations, don’t be surprised to hear Tesla release a new statement addressing the allegations.

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Autonomous All The Things – Tesla's Master Plan For Driverless Vehicles

Autonomous All The Things – Tesla’s Master Plan For Driverless Vehicles

From freight to public buses, ride sharing to commuting, Tesla’s vision for the future is big and bold

In a recent blog post entitled “Master Plan, Part Deux,” Tesla CEO and possible mad scientist comic book character Elon Musk outlined how his upstart electric car company would completely revamp the world of transportation and energy consumption. The 1,500-word post hits on a lot of issues, which isn’t all that surprising considering the scope, but one of the most prominent recurring themes is the advent of autonomous driving technology. In short, Tesla wants to take human drivers out of the equation across the board, with the ultimate goal being greater convenience, more safety, and higher efficiency. But the question is this – is the Master Plan a workable solution, or just a sci-fi pipe dream?

The post comes at a delicate time for Tesla, as the public’s perception of driverless vehicles is still mired by controversy. That said, the California-based automaker has never shied away from stating its objectives, no matter the circumstances, and despite widespread reticence, Musk says he want to expand the tech’s applications, all with the reassurance that it’s for the greater good.

Read on for a breakdown of Tesla’s Master Plan for autonomous driving technology, plus our take on whether or not it’s even possible.

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Tesla has Big Plans and One of Them Could Make you Money

Tesla has Big Plans and One of Them Could Make you Money

Elon Musk wants to take over the automotive world

Elon Musk recently announced the second installment of his “master plan” and it talks about increasing the safety and usability of autonomy in Tesla vehicles, expanding production to include most of the consumer market (including heavy-duty trucks and public transportation), and to integrate solar energy and better energy storage capabilities into Tesla vehicles. There’s another part of the plan, however, that could mean you can drive or ride in a Tesla without actually owning one.

To put it simply, Musk wants to integrate ride sharing across Tesla’s entire range of vehicles. This is a long-term goal, so don’t expect it anytime soon. In fact, it probably won’t be implemented in a wide-scale form until some time after fully-autonomous capabilities are safe, legal, and well established. However, once that happens, there are two major things that we could see happen.

First, if you own a Tesla vehicle, you’ll be able to opt into a ride-sharing program that will allow someone else to request your vehicle from a smartphone app. The vehicle will then deliver itself to whoever requested it and take them wherever they wish to go. Your vehicle will return to you at a predetermined time for your ride home from work, to the store, or anywhere else you might want to go. By opting into the program, you’ll be able to make some extra scratch too, as those requesting to use the car will pay a certain fee for their ride. This will generate extra income for you, and as Musk points out, it will “dramatically lower the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla.”

That’s only one part of Musk’s future philosophy. In areas where there are very few Tesla owners, Tesla will operate its own fleet of self-driving, ride-sharing vehicles. The process will work the same way – you can summon a vehicle from your home or work for a quick ride – and any fees paid will go directly to Tesla instead of an individual owner. This will allow for widespread growth of the ride-sharing program and should come at a fairly reasonable price once the system is established.

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Growing Pains – The Tesla Autopilot Crashes And Our Autonomous Future

Growing Pains – The Tesla Autopilot Crashes And Our Autonomous Future

Unfortunate, tragic… but not unexpected

The past few weeks have not been kind to Tesla’s Autopilot feature. Three separate high-profile crashes involving the autonomous driving system have been reported since June 30th, including one fatality, raising serious questions about self-driving cars and their implementation on public roads. Are autonomous cars safe? Are regulators doing enough to protect the public? How will advances in self-driving technology be affected?

Well, I’m here to tell you the hard truth – what we’re witnessing now are the growing pains of our inevitable autonomous future.

Perhaps it’s crass to label a deadly car accident as part of the “growing pains” of technological progression, but the reality is any tech has the potential to be dangerous. Add in a few tons of metal traveling at highway speeds, and you raise the stakes. Of course, the fear mongers will be quick to point fingers and assign blame, but when considered logically, each of these three incidents are the unavoidable result of humanity’s perpetual experiment for a better tomorrow.

Basically, it’s like this – it was bound to happen, it’ll happen again, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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 Will The NHTSA Consider Banning The Use Of Tesla's Autopilot System?

Will The NHTSA Consider Banning The Use Of Tesla’s Autopilot System?

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?

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Is Tesla's Autopilot Responsible For Yet Another Accident?

Is Tesla’s Autopilot Responsible For Yet Another Accident?

Are we too trusting of new technology?

It seems like Tesla has been taking blow after blow lately. It hasn’t even been a week since reports started surfacing of the fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S, and now it looks like another serious crash has occurred while Autopilot was engaged on a Tesla Model X. According to the Detroit Free Press Albert Scaglione – an art dealer out of Southfield, MI – and his son-in-law, Tim Yanke, were cruising down a Pennsylvania highway with Autopilot engaged when the Model X hit a guardrail, bounced off of a concrete median, rolled onto its roof, and came to a stop on the opposite side of the highway.

Fortunately, the accident wasn’t fatal, and both passengers of the Model X walked away from the accident unharmed. There was reportedly some damage to a 2013 Infiniti G37 from the scattering of debris during the accident, but all passengers in that vehicle were unharmed as well. According to the report, neither passenger of the totaled Model X were available for comment, but Dale Vukovich of the Pennsylvania State Police reported that Scaglione claims to have activated the Autopilot feature of the Model X prior to the accident.

Apparently, there isn’t enough evidence to indicate that the Autopilot malfunctioned, but Tesla has yet to weigh in on this specific incident, and more details could come to light if Tesla takes the time to investigate the accident. According to the Detroit Free Press, the driver of the Model X will likely be cited once investigation of the accident is complete. So, what’s the deal with Tesla’s Autopilot these days?

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Is Tesla At Fault For The First Fatal Crash Of A Model S With Autopilot Engaged?

Is Tesla At Fault For The First Fatal Crash Of A Model S With Autopilot Engaged?

The accident occurred on US 27A in Williston, Florida last May

It seems that, lately, Tesla just can’t catch a break. People are crawling out of the woodwork with frivolous lawsuits, which are piled on top of all the other negativity like the faults with the Model X. Now, it looks like a Tesla Model S has been involved in a fatal accident, and people all over the internet are debating about whether the fault lies with the driver or the autopilot system of the Model S.

According to the Levy County Journal, the 2015 Tesla Model S was driving east on U.S. 27A near Williston, Florida when a tractor-trailer that was traveling west turned left and passed in front of the car. The Model S struck the trailer, shearing off its roof before it crashed through a couple of fences, struck a light pole, and stopped 100 feet off of the highway. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to a press release issued by Tesla, the company contacted the NHTSA immediately and was alerted on June 29 that the NHTSA was investigating the incident. According to Tesla, the car had autopilot engaged at the time of the accident and “neither the autopilot or the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied” This is the first known fatal crash that has occurred with autopilot engaged and, according to Tesla, it’s the first in over “130 million miles where autopilot was activated.”

Be that as it may, the general public is divided on where to place fault for the accident. Keep reading to learn more about that.

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