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How Much Do We Really Know About the Tesla Autopilot Crash?

December 5, 2016
Colson Hicks Eidson

A few short months ago, an Ohio man lost his life in a crash while his Tesla Model S was in autopilot mode. The crash sent waves through the auto industry and placed a big question mark on autonomous vehicle development. Right now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the crash. What it finds out may change the future of the automobile as we know it.

How Much Do We Really Know About the Tesla Autopilot Crash?

After the Tesla vehicle crashed into a truck, fatally injuring an Ohio entrepreneur, the truck driver made a startling claim. He said that he heard a Harry Potter movie playing when he approached the crashed Tesla. This statement has led many to assume that the driver of the car might have been watching a movie instead of following Tesla’s safety requirements. However, the trucker’s story is now coming under scrutiny.

Though police did find a DVD player in the car with the Tesla driver, no one knows if the device would have prevented the driver from paying attention to the road. A recent report also revealed that a critical power cord was unplugged during the Tesla crash. That could mean the DVD player might not have had the power to play when the truck driver checked it. The details are still fuzzy, but it also goes to show you how little we know about this accident.

NHTSA just released reports showing the damage caused by the Tesla crash. These reports revealed that the Tesla was going 74 mph in a 65 mph zone. This is causing more people to suspect a glitch in the autopilot system, but Tesla has a different explanation.

The electric vehicle company says its autopilot system didn’t fail, but its automatic emergency braking system might have. The braking system is programmed to ignore overhead road signs to prevent false braking events. The company is now trying to determine if the system mistook the truck for a sign and didn’t apply the brakes.

Could this new information be a vindication of the autopilot system or a condemnation of Tesla? Consumer Reports is already calling for the removal of the autopilot system from all Tesla models. Should all Tesla consumers demand the same? Keep following our automotive defects blog to see where this story leads. And visit our defective auto parts page to learn more about the responsibilities automakers have to their customers.