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Tesla admits Autopilot was on during latest Model X accident

Lucas Mearian | July 14, 2016
According to reports,the second accident took place less than two weeks after Tesla revealed its Autopilot feature.

Tesla has confirmed that another of its all-electric vehicles was involved in an accident while its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), which it calls Autopilot, was engaged.

The second accident involving Autopilot comes less than two weeks after Tesla revealed the feature was also involved in a fatal crash that took place in May. It is unclear whether anyone involved suffered injuries in the second crash.

tesla crash montana Model X

A photo of the Model X crash, which took place around midnight on Saturday.

The latest accident, which took place around midnight on Saturday near Cardwell, Montana, involved a Model X -- a gull wing-style SUV -- which allegedly suddenly swerved into a wooden guard rail, crushing the right side of the vehicle. Tesla, which receives cellular data from vehicles, claims the driver did not have his hands on the steering wheel at the time of the accident, which the carmaker recommends drivers do at all times.

"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 two minutes after Autosteer was engaged -- even a very small amount of force, such as one hand resting on the wheel, will be detected," a Tesla spokesperson told the BBC. "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."

Musk said Tesla had no plans to disable Autopilot, and one report indicated the company plans to further clarify proper use of the feature in an upcoming blog.

Tesla has been criticized in news reports for not being more swift to publically disclose the earlier fatal crash, and some have questioned whether Autopilot is safe to use.

Musk has defended Tesla's Autopilot technology, stating that among all U.S. vehicles there is a fatality every 94 million miles. This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated.

tesla crash montana Eresan/Tesla Motors Club

A close-up of the damage to the Model X in Saturday's accident, which allegedly occurred when the car suddently veered into a wooden guard rail.

"To be clear, this accident was the result of a semi-tractor trailer crossing both lanes of a divided highway in front of an oncoming car. Whether driven under manual or assisted mode, this presented a challenging and unexpected emergency braking scenario for the driver to respond to," Musk wrote in a blog regarding the fatal crash. He added that there was no evidence to suggest that Autopilot was not operating as designed.

 

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