Two federal agencies, the NHTSA and the NTSB are investigating a fatal Tesla Model S crash that happened on Saturday, April 12. Local authorities believe the vehicle's Autopilot mode was on during the crash, ultimately leading Tesla's two passengers to die after it caught fire by hitting a tree off the road.
Elon Musk, however, says otherwise. Tesla's CEO wrote a comment on Twitter saying that the EV company's "Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD."
Musk didn't stop there, "Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which the street did not have."
Your research as a private individual is better than professionals @WSJ!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2021
Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD.
Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have.
There are a few points to unpack here.
Firstly, local authorities are adamant that there was no one sitting in the driver's seat at the time of the crash, which is why they're led to believe Autopilot was switched on. The two passengers were found in the front and rear passenger seats.
It has to be pointed out, however, that Tesla's Autopilot mode doesn't easily keep functioning, and certainly not quickly, once the driver's seatbelt is unbuckled — as was demonstrated last year through a YouTube video stunt. So unless one of the passengers tricked the Tesla by keeping the seatbelt buckled before changing seats in the moving vehicle, this is quite an unlikely event.
Secondly, Musk mentioned that the Autopilot mode doesn't function when there are no clear lane lines on the road. The system may well be built that way, but as some Tesla owners have demonstrated on social media accounts, the system can be tricked to function even when these lines are very faint, or nonexistent.
Thirdly, it could prove difficult to recover the data log Musk mentioned, as the vehicle was badly incinerated — burning for hours as the batteries kept reigniting the flames.
The federal agencies in charge of the investigations, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will hopefully uncover clearer information regarding this crash. On top of that, local authorities will serve search warrants to Tesla to get their hands on these data logs, as Reuters reported.
Time will tell how the crash happened.