The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a statement last week confirming that it will investigate the recent Tesla Model X rollover accident in Pennsylvania after the driver claimed that the Autopilot was activated during the crash.
Last week, Tesla said that they couldn’t access the data logs remotely because of the damage on the vehicle, but a spokesperson also said that they “have no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident”.
Now apparently Tesla managed to access the logs (they can be downloaded directly in the vehicle) and CEO Elon Musk says that the Autopilot was actually turned off during the crash which happened on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on July 1st – the day after NHTSA announced a probe of the Autopilot following a fatal accident in Florida.
Musk went as far as saying that if the Autopilot would have been on before the crash, it could have prevented it.
He made the comment via his Twitter account:
It’s not clear on what he is basing this notion that the system could have prevented the accident, but Tesla’s Autopilot does run in the background even when it is not activated in order to collect data and improve on the system. Therefore, Tesla could actually have the data backing this claim.
Albert Scaglione, the driver of the Model X and a prominent art gallery owner, told the police after the accident that the Autopilot was activated at the time of the crash. The police investigator in charge of the case, Dale Vukovich, told the press that he was likely going to cite Scaglione for the incident. The art gallery owner has reportedly now been cited for careless driving.
When the police described the accident, they said that the Model X hit a guard rail and then the concrete median before rolling over and coming to a rest in the middle lane. Scaglione was in the vehicle with his son and they were both reportedly OK after the crash.
The series of event leading to the accident based on the logs:
“We got access to the logs. Data from the vehicle shows that Autosteer was not engaged at the time of this collision. Prior to the collision, Autosteer was in use periodically throughout the approximately 50-minute trip. The most recent such use ended when, approximately 40 seconds prior to the collision, the vehicle did not detect the driver’s hands on the wheel and began a rapidly escalating set of visual and audible alerts to ensure the driver took proper control. When the driver failed to respond to 15 seconds of visual warnings and audible tones, Autosteer began a graceful abort procedure in which the music is muted, the vehicle begins to slow and the driver is instructed both visually and audibly to place their hands on the wheel. Approximately 11 seconds prior to the collision, the driver responded and regained control by holding the steering wheel, applying leftward torque to turn it, and pressing the accelerator pedal to 42%. Over 10 seconds and approximately 300m later and while under manual steering control, the driver drifted out of the lane, collided with a barrier, overcorrected, crossed both lanes of the highway, struck a median barrier, and rolled the vehicle.”