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This article was published on April 20, 2021


Elon Musk casts doubt over Autopilot involvement in fatal Tesla crash

Musk's comments ask more questions than they answer

Elon Musk casts doubt over Autopilot involvement in fatal Tesla crash
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

Tesla figurehead Elon Musk has commented on the US crash in which two men died. Casting doubt on the situation, Musk’s input now asks more questions than it answers.

Musk claims that Autopilot was not engaged at the time, and that the vehicle in question didn’t have the Full Self Driving package.

Replying to a Twitter account critiquing the WSJ article on the incident, Musk said that the data recovered so far “show Autopilot was not enabled and this car did not purchase FSD.”

It seems this is Musk’s only response to this crash.

The account Musk is replying to suggests that Autopilot won’t work if no one is in the driving seat, and holding on to the steering wheel.

While this should be the case, we know the system has been gamed in the past, and the driver monitoring sensor on the steering wheel can be hacked with an orange.

Numerous videos have circulated online, where drivers have climbed into the passenger seat and the Tesla has continued driving as if everything is as it should be.

The thing is, investigators are certain that no one was in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Reports say that one person was found in the front passenger seat, and the other in the back seat.

Musk also said that Autopilot wouldn’t work on a street that doesn’t have lane lines. The road where the crash took place, doesn’t have lines.

If Tesla’s systems worked as intended, and there was no one in the driver’s seat, the car simply should not have been moving.

It’s evident that something unusual was going on, but right now, we can’t say exactly what. And any attempt to say what happened is speculation.

More to come

This is not the last we’ll hear on this matter, you can be sure of that.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have launched investigations into the crash.

Bear in mind, the NHTSA is already investigating 27 other Tesla crashes.

According to CNBC, the police and federal investigators are yet to complete their analysis of the crash. No conclusions can yet be drawn.

And as you might suspect, despite what Musk has said, a big question mark remains over whether driver-assistance systems were engaged before or during the crash.


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