A California man died last week after relying too heavily on his Model X’s Autopilot features, according to a statement from Tesla.
The fatal crash occurred on March 25, 2018, near Mountain View, California. A 38-year-old man was driving on the highway using the Autopilot feature of his Model X when the SUV crashed into the concrete center divider.
According to a statement from Tesla, vehicle logs showed that the driver took no action before the crash even though the Autopilot system had warned him to resume control of the SUV.
“The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken,” Tesla said.
Tesla declined to say why the Autopilot sensors did not detect the concrete wall and prevent the crash on its own.
The crash involved two other vehicles and caused traffic mayhem for hours. The driver of the Model X was taken to a nearby hospital where he died shortly after arrival.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation last week, along with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). So far, both have declined to comment. The investigation is still ongoing.
Tesla’s Autopilot is a highly touted system that allows the driver to take their hands off the wheels and allows the car’s software to assume full control of driving, although Tesla officially requires all drivers have their hands on the wheel, ready to resume control on a moment’s notice.
The system mostly handles highway driving, but can also automatically park, handle some non-highway driving scenarios, and even drive the car to its owner from a parking lot or garage.
This is the second fatal crash that Tesla’s Autopilot was involved in. The first took place in 2016 when a driver of a Model S crashed his car into a big rig. At the time, the NTSB faulted Tesla for not explaining the limits of the Autopilot system sufficiently, as well as the driver for “overreliance on vehicle automation.”
“Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur,” a Tesla spokesperson said on Friday. “It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists.”