Tesla said it’s likely somebody was in the driver’s seat during a deadly Model S crash in Texas, contradicting local law enforcement

Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk again denied that the Tesla that crashed in Texas on April 17, killing two people, was on Autopilot.
  • A Tesla exec added it was likely that someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.
  • This contradicts statements made by local law enforcement.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Monday that the Model S that crashed just outside Houston, Texas, earlier this month, killing two people, wasn’t on Autopilot – and that any suggestion otherwise was “completely false.”

Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, added that he thought it was likely someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the deadly crash, contradicting local law enforcement.

On April 17, a Tesla Model S skipped over a curb, crashed into a tree, and burst into flames, killing two people.

A Harris County constable told local TV station KHOU on April 18 that investigators were “100% certain that no one was in the driver seat driving that vehicle at the time of impact.” A senior Harris County officer said on April 19 that witnesses had suggested nobody was driving the vehicle earlier in its journey.

Tesla’s electric vehicles come with Autopilot, a feature that allows the cars to brake, accelerate, and steer automatically. Tesla tells drivers using Autopilot to remain in the driver’s seat with their hands on the steering wheel – but earlier this month, Consumer Reports showed it was possible to turn on Autopilot with nobody in the driver’s seat.

Musk previously said that Autopilot was not being used at the time of the crash. Two days after the crash, he tweeted: “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled.”

Read more: The electric car boom is coming to wipe out auto dealer profits. Consolidating into ‘super dealers’ may be their only way to survive.

During Tesla’s earnings call Monday, Musk said that “there were really just extremely deceptive media practices where it was claimed to be Autopilot but this is completely false.” He didn’t reference any specific media reports.

Moravy said that Tesla had been working with local authorities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the crash.

“The steering wheel was indeed deformed so we’re leaning to the likelihood that someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash,” Moravy said.

“All seatbelts post-crash were found to be unbuckled,” he added. Tesla’s Autopilot only works when seatbelts are buckled in.

Moravy said that Tesla was unable to recover the data from the vehicle’s SD card at the time of impact, but that the local authorities were working on that.

“We continue to hold safety in a higher regard and look to improve products in the future through this kind of data and other information from the field,” he added.

Tesla also sells its full self-driving software (FSD) as a $10,000 one-off add-on, which it plans to release widely in 2021. FSD allows cars to park themselves, change lanes, and identify both stop signs and traffic lights.

Neither Autopilot nor FSD makes a Tesla car fully autonomous.

At least three drivers have died while using Tesla’s Autopilot, and the National Transportation Safety Board has called for increased scrutiny of self-driving software.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Consumer Reports says Tesla’s cameras inside its cars, which transmit video footage of passengers, could pose a privacy risk

Elon Musk
  • Several Tesla models record and transmit video of drivers and passengers via in-car cameras.
  • Tesla cars have up to 9 cameras encompassing both the outside and inside of the car.
  • Consumer Reports said the in-car camera opens drivers up to serious privacy concerns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several Tesla vehicle models, including the Model 3 and Model Y, record and transmit video footage of drivers and passengers via in-car cameras. The cameras are designed to help Tesla develop its full-self driving software, but present a serious privacy risk, according to Consumer Reports.

John Davisson, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), told Consumer Reports the footage opens Tesla drivers up to a whole host of privacy concerns, including the potential for outside parties to gain access to the data for malicious purposes, as well as Tesla itself using the data for its own gain.

“It may later be repurposed for a system that is designed to track the behaviors of the driver, potentially for other business purposes,” Davisson told Consumer Reports.

Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ auto-test center, told Insider the most concerning aspect of their investigation into the cameras was that Tesla was not being entirely transparent about how the cameras were being used.

“Tesla could be using these cameras to stop crashes and they’re using it for studies, to help Tesla develop more things,” Fisher told Insider. “Tesla is the only automaker that has hardware that could help stop crashes, but isn’t using it for the driver’s safety.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that Tesla has used the in-car cameras to remove its full self-driving software from drivers that “did not pay sufficient attention to the road.”

Musk confirmed the company was using the in-car cameras to determine eligibility for the FSD software, when asked by another Twitter user.

Other car companies, including BMW, Ford and General Motors have elaborate driver monitoring systems, but they have focused the systems on driver safety over collecting data. Consumer Reports notes the car companies do not record, save or transmit the data and use infrared technology to identify a driver’s eye movements or head position instead of video cameras.

While Tesla does not use the in-car cameras to alert the driver to potential safety concerns, the company does use a real-time driver-engagement tool via steering wheel inputs that analyze the amount of pressure put on the wheel to keep drivers alert.

Consumer Reports said the steering wheel inputs can be easily tricked. “Just because a driver’s hands are on the wheel doesn’t mean their attention is on the road,” said Kelly Funkhouser, program manager for vehicle interface testing at Consumer Reports. Fisher told Insider in-car cameras could help save a lot of lives.

Tesla drivers can opt-out of sharing the in-car videos via their control settings and the Cabin Camera is disabled by default. According to Tesla’s site, the camera will only turn on before a crash or automatic emergency braking (AEB) activation.

China has also expressed concern regarding cameras on Tesla cars. In March, China banned Tesla cars in military complexes due to concerns about the company monitoring drivers via the car’s cameras.

In response, Musk said on Twitter that the company would be shut down if it was spying on Chinese officials.

While Tesla’s Model 3 made the Consumer Reports’ “Top Picks” list last year, the publication removed its recommendation for the Model S, citing issues with its suspension and electronics. Consumer Reports also criticized Tesla’s Model Y in November for body hardware and paint issues.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Elon Musk says some Tesla drivers were removed from beta tests for its Full Self-Driving software for not paying attention to the road

esla head Elon Musk arrives to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin on September 03, 2020 near Gruenheide, Germany.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company pulled access for some Full Self-Driving software testers.
  • Tesla “revoked beta where drivers did not pay sufficient attention to the road,” Musk said.
  • On Friday, CNBC reported NTSB chair Robert Sumwalt sought new requirements for public testing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Friday said the carmaker had expanded the public testing pool for its Full Self-Driving software to about 2,000 vehicle owners but also revoked access for drivers who didn’t pay close attention to the road.

Tesla “revoked beta where drivers did not pay sufficient attention to the road,” Musk said on Twitter late Friday. “No accidents to date.”

Musk didn’t offer further details about how many drivers have lost access, or how Tesla made decisions about pulling access. Insider has reached out to the company for comment.

Musk’s statement followed a Friday report saying the National Transportation Safety Board chairman called for increased scrutiny of self-driving software.

On Friday, CNBC reported that NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt had in February sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking for updated requirements for carmakers testing software like Tesla’s on public roads.

Sumwalt’s letter mentioned Tesla by name 16 times, as CNBC reported. He wrote that Tesla was testing its software on public roads “with limited oversight or reporting requirements.”

He added: “Although Tesla includes a disclaimer that ‘currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,’ NHTSA’s hands-off approach to oversight of [automated vehicle] testing poses a potential risk to motorists and other road users.”

A week ago, Musk said Tesla would double the size of its public beta testing program for version 8.2 of its software. “Still be careful, but it’s getting mature,” he said.

He added that he expected the beta testing program to expand tenfold for software version 8.3, which would be released in “probably two or three weeks.” On Friday, he said the next “significant release will be in April.”

A cache of emails between Tesla and California regulators were made public by a transparency advocacy group, PlainSite, on Friday.

In the emails, a Tesla lawyer said the company had “made it abundantly clear” to beta testers that the system “does not make the vehicle autonomous and that the driver is responsible for being fully attentive at all times.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Elon Musk says Tesla will double its Full Self-Driving software’s beta program. It comes amid news that Ford’s Mustang Mach-E is eating into Tesla’s US sales.

Tesla
A Tesla supercharger station at Burbank town center.

  • CEO Elon Musk said Tesla would double a beta testing program for its Full Self-Driving software.
  • “Still be careful, but it’s getting mature,” Musk said.
  • The news comes amid reports that a Ford rival is eating into Tesla’s lead in the EV market.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Friday said the carmaker would double a beta testing program for its self-driving software. The news comes amid reports that Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E seems to be eating into Tesla’s lead in the electric vehicle market. 

On Twitter, Musk said:“If you want the Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta downloaded to your car, let us know.”

The beta drivers will be testing version 8.2 of the company’s Full Self-Driving software, said Musk. Last week, the CEO said version 8.1 “normally drives me around with no interventions.” The next version will be “a big step change beyond that.”

“Still be careful, but it’s getting mature,” he added on Friday. 

Musk also said he expected the beta program to be “probably” 10 times larger by the time the company tests its version 8.3 software. Version 8.3 has “literally ~1000 improvements” from the previous version, he tweeted, adding it “will take time to QA internally before release probably in two or three weeks.”

Tesla has an ever-growing number of electric vehicle rivals, and while Ford sold only 3,739 of the new SUVs in February, Tesla’s share of the US electric-car market fell to 69% in the same month. This was down from 81% in the prior year, a Morgan Stanley report found. What’s more, the Mustang accounted for nearly all of Tesla’s market-share losses, the bank said. 

Tesla’s beta testers will be trying out the company’s Full Self-Driving software. One beta user posted a video of his Tesla driving 358 miles, from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley, without the driver intervening. 

The company had plans to launch the autopilot software as a subscription service this year. Musk said this month that it would “for sure” launch before July. 

Waymo CEO, John Krafcik, in January said Tesla’s software can’t compete with Waymo’s autonomous software. Tesla’s building cars with assisted driving, while Waymo’s building cars that don’t need drivers at all, he said. 

“So no Tesla is not a competitor at all. They’re a car company making a driver assist system. We’re a company making a fully autonomous driver,” Krafcik said.

Musk shot back on Twitter, saying Tesla had “better AI hardware and software than Waymo.” 

 

Read the original article on Business Insider