Tesla’s autonomous driving feature Autopilot has received much attention recently. Six accidents of Tesla cars were reported that to different degrees were in the context of Autopilot.
On April 26, a Model S rear-ended another vehicle on I-5 northbound from LA. The driver told Ars Technica: “All of a sudden the car ahead of me came to a halt. There was a decent amount of space so I figured that the car was going to brake as it is supposed to and didn’t brake immediately. When it became apparent that the car was not slowing down at all, I slammed on the brakes but was probably still going 40 when I collided with the other car.”
Tesla responded that before the accident, the vehicle logs data recorded the deactivation of autopilot, traffic aware cruise control and automatic emergency braking system due to the driver’s use of brake pedal.
On April 29, a Model S started on itself and crashed the windshield into a trailer parked in front, in Lindon of Utah. The driver claimed that he parked the Tesla car, chatted with a person for 20 seconds to 1 minute, went away for 5 minutes and found the car under the trailer after came back.
Tesla responded that the vehicle logs “show that the incident occurred as a result of the driver not being properly attentive to the vehicle’s surroundings while using the Summon feature or maintaining responsibility for safely controlling the vehicle at all times.” The Summon feature enables the car to park by itself after a few actions to activate. The logs recorded that the Summon feature started 3 seconds after the drive got out of the car and closed the car door.
On May 7, a Model S crashed into a tractor trailer on Highway 27 Alternate near Williston, Florida. The trailer was making a left turn when the Tesla car on Autopilot mode from the opposite direction drove under the trailer. The driver and only occupant of the Model S was killed.
A Tesla blog wrote “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”
On May 19, a Model S hit a stopped van in left lane of a busy road in Europe. The driver posted a video of the accident, showing that the car was on Traffic-Aware Cruise Control of Autopilot which was locking on a car driving in front. While the car in front was steering right to avoid a stopped van, the Model S did not seem to react accordingly and hit the van.
The driver claimed that Tesla Europe stated that “all systems worked as expected.”.
On July 1, a Model X crashed on Pennsylvania Turnpike near Bedford exit in Pennsylvania. The Detroit Free Press reported that the car “hit a guard rail off the right side of the roadway. It then crossed over the eastbound lanes and hit the concrete median. After that, the Tesla Model X rolled onto its roof and came to rest in the middle eastbound lane. ”
The two people in the car were injured in the accident. The driver told police that the car was in Autopilot. However, Tesla released a statement saying “We have since attempted to contact the customer three times by phone without success. Based on the information we have now, we have no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident.”
On July 9, a Model X on Autopilot bumped into a guard rail near Whitehall of Montana. Fortune reported that the car “failed to detect debris, a wooden stake, in the road” according to online comment by a person who claimed to be the driver’s friend.
Tesla’s statement said that “The data suggests that the driver’s hands were not on the steering wheel, as no force was detected on the steering wheel for over 2 minutes after auto-steer was engaged (even a very small amount of force, such as one hand resting on the wheel, will be detected). As road conditions became increasingly uncertain, the vehicle again alerted the driver to put his hands on the wheel. He did not do so and shortly thereafter the vehicle collided with a post on the edge of the roadway.”