Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Police probe whether Autopilot feature was on in Tesla crash

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Lindsey Cook | 15 May, 2018, 22:29

Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The incident involving the Tesla Model S occurred on May 11 in South Jordan, Utah, when an unidentified 28-year-old female ran a red light and crashed into the back of another vehicle at 60 miles per hour.

"What's actually fantastic about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60 m.p.h. and the driver only broke an ankle", he added. The driver of the fire truck suffered whiplash and was not taken to a hospital.

News of the crash came as a top Tesla official who had been the main technical contact with us safety investigators left the company to join rival Waymo.

The crash comes as federal safety agencies investigate the performance of Tesla's semi-autonomous driving system.

The NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are also looking into the performance of the company's Autopilot system in the March crash of a Tesla Model X on a California highway. Now, Musk has said in the email to the Tesla staff that it was "flattening the management structure to improve communication", and cutting activities that are not "not vital to the success of our mission".

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"In exceptional circumstances, lithium ion batteries can experience a sudden and unstoppable rise in temperature - a sort of chain reaction that can lead to a breakdown of the thermal equilibrium of the system and to the complete destruction of the batteries and the auto", fire safety expert Guido Zaccarelli said in an article quoted by the Bellinzona fire brigade. He was Tesla's main technical contact with U.S. Safety Investigators.

Musk said in Monday's email Tesla would still rapidly hire people to fill critical positions "to support the Model 3 production ramp and future product development".

"To ensure that Tesla is well-prepared for the future, we have been undertaking a thorough reorganization of our company", Musk said in the memo, obtained by CNBC.

Witnesses said the Tesla vehicle did not brake prior to impact, the police said in a statement, adding it was unknown if the autopilot feature in the Model S was engaged at the time.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that was the real story - the vehicle's safety. "In each of our past investigations involving a Tesla vehicle, Tesla has been extremely cooperative on assisting with the vehicle data", an agency spokesman said.

According to Tesla, it was the fault of the driver that caused the accident; the car's autopilot system was engaged only six seconds before the accident. Autopilot, a form of advanced cruise control, handles some driving tasks and warns those behind the wheel they are always responsible for the vehicle's safe operation.

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