Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO who has been touted as real life incarnation of Tony Stark, has come out and said that the recent crash that took place in Pennsylvania was not because of his company’s vehicle but because of driver’s own fault.
Well, he didn’t actually say that it was the driver’s fault but, we can all agree that is exactly what he meant when he said that the car’s onboard logs showed that the car’s autopilot feature was functioning to perfection right till the point of the crash.
Earlier, a driver in Pennsylvania crashed his Model X Tesla car and immediately blamed Tesla’s Autopilot feature for the accident.
Elon Musk (who also happens to be the co-founder of PayPal and founder of SpaceX, not to mention Tesla) has refuted that claim comprehensively by stating that the car’s vehicle log (which is stored as an onboard component) indicated that Tesla’s semi-autonomous (some people mistake it to be a driverless feature but we’ll come to that confusion later) mode was turned off when the accident happened.
Tesla’s CEO used the social media platform, Twitter to break the news and specifically said that the accident would not have happened in a million years if the Autopilot (which isn’t exactly Autopilot but we’ll let Elon Musk go this time) feature was turned on.
Before we go any further, let’s just remind ourselves that Tesla isn’t some San Francisco garage startup anymore.
It is a huge American automotive and energy storage company and has a CEO on top of it who is worth in the billions. Yes. Billions like thousands and thousands of millions.
Tesla has been involved in its fair share of complex design, breakthrough manufacture processes and marketing campaigns to have not come out with a car that, now after launch, has taken some serious flak in the media for some of its features.
But coming back to the driver of that Tesla Model X which crashed.
The driver, after the accident, told related authorities that he struck a guard rail violently because of the autopilot feature.
The investigators, just like Elon Musk of Tesla, later said that their investigation had not shown the cause to be a faulty Autopilot feature.
But even if the cops had not said that, there is a feeling amongst the experts that Tesla would have still insisted that the car’s autopilot feature was not the root cause of the accident.
Tesla hasn’t come out with any sort of statement but more details on the investigation that it conducted on the crashed Model X car must be put forward in the media to settle the matter completely.
Otherwise, Tesla stands to lose a lot of car sales this year and given that the company only started making a profit since 2013, somehow, that could hurt its share prices a lot too.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t even the first time Tesla Model X’s autopilot feature has graced the cover stories of many media outlets.
If we put aside the Pennsylvania incident for a moment, then there is hardly any explanation, from Tesla that is, for the Florida accident that proved to be fatal for the driver of the car.
That driver was driving the Model S, but nevertheless, the car manufacturer was still Tesla.
Some consumer protection agencies have suggested that Tesla should get rid of the “autopilot” name altogether as the name gives the driver a false sense of security when in fact it isn’t even close to what would actually be an autopilot feature.
Those same agencies have also stated that Tesla should get rid of beta features from all its future cars so that driver’s security and safety are put ahead of everything else.
For what it’s worth, Tesla did respond to these calls and said that it will not be changing its Autopilot feature name and neither will it remove it from its cars.
Past, present or future.
To be fair to Tesla (and to further proof that the autopilot feature isn’t really a full autopilot feature), it should be added that the electric car company recommends that drivers should have their hands on the wheel even when the autopilot feature is turned on.
There is little doubt that this latest car crash incidence would raise further questions about the viability of self-driven cars in America.
If only car manufacturers were put under more pressure from other countries.
But that seems highly unlikely since just recently, numerous European countries approved Tesla’s autopilot feature.
Among the foremost were authorities in Netherlands. They said they could not find any security concerns as far as Tesla car systems were concerned.
Not only that, a German regulator related with the automotive industry stated it would not be push back against Tesla provided that Elon Musk’s car company advertises the feature as a driver assist feature.
Not as a self-driving system which seems to befuddle potential customers.
Some technology experts are of the view that Tesla and the rest of electric car companies are at the very least, a couple of decades away from a point where technology will be advanced enough to ensure a comprehensive and reliable electric self-driven car.
And of course, we cannot ignore the fact that today, self-driving cars are having so many problems because there are other cars out there that do not have a computer in them and are being driven by a human.
The unpredictability that brings into the equation is one of the reasons why self-driven cars haven’t had their golden time yet.
It has to be noted that compared to other technologies out there, Tesla, with its electric cars is rather amongst the safe ones.
Given the number of miles’ electric cars have driven since becoming somewhat mainstream and the frequency of accidents (three counting the current one) it is clear that the technology itself has a bright future.
Whether Tesla would continue to take risks with shaky names for its features and whether it would continue to experiment with its electric cars by introducing features that are in the beta stage remains to be seen.