On April 17, a Tesla Model S caught fire after hitting a tree on a road in the suburbs of Houston, Texas. The circumstances are troubling and the matter is so far rather confused.
At first, investigators claimed that the two victims had been found, one in the back seat and the other in the front, in the passenger seat. In other words, it appears that there was no one behind the wheel and that the occupants had decided to rely entirely on the Tesla’s autopilot.
However, the auto company, and Elon Musk himself in a tweet, say that is not possible.
Your research as a private individual is better than professionals @WSJ!
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.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2021
According to Tesla, the brand’s “Autopilot” system cannot work if there is no one in the driver’s seat and the seat belts are not fastened. In addition, this vehicle, according to Tesla, was not even equipped with the full Autopilot (this is a paid option that is not activated by default).
However, according to tests carried out by the American magazine Customer Reports, it would be possible to cheat Tesla’s security system. By sliding from one seat to another, we would manage to make the car roll in automatic mode without anyone in the driver’s seat. An explanation that therefore contradicts Elon Musk. In addition, it would also be possible to trick the system which controls that you have your hands resting on the steering wheel, by attaching a weight to the steering wheel to simulate the pressure of the arms.
So all of this is quite disturbing. We will have to wait for the results of the investigation to find out more. The American manufacturer hopes to recover the memory card on which additional information could be found, in particular audio and video recordings, such as an airplane black box. It should be remembered that even Tesla are not considered to be 100% autonomous vehicles and that the presence of an attentive driver remains mandatory.