Police Probing Whether Autopilot Feature Was on in Utah Tesla Crash


The Tesla Model S crashed into the truck at 60 miles per hour (97 kph) apparently without braking before impact, according to police in South Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City.

The Tesla vehicle was travelling at 60 miles per hour when it hit the mechanic truck, which was stopped for the light on the South Bangerter Highway in South Jordan, Utah at 6:38 pm MT, the police said. The driver of the Tesla, who was taken to the hospital with a broken foot, has yet to be named, and police reported she did not brake before impact of the crash.

In a couple of recent tweets Musk downplayed the accident itself, emphasizing the fact that the only injury the Tesla driver had sustained was a broken ankle, when, he argued, it would have been much worse in any other vehicle. The 28 year-old driver admitted to looking at her phone before the crash, despite the company's mandate that customers remain alert while using Autopilot, and not rely on the system entirely. He described news reports as "super messed up" because Tesla accidents, including one that just resulted in a broken ankle, are garnering headlines.

Tesla co-founder Elon Musk has defended his company's driverless Autopilot feature after a woman broke her ankle in a crash while the system was active. The fire department mechanic truck had been stopped at a red light.

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace and the thought of self-driving cars slowly starts to become a reality, consumers are leery of giving up total control of the wheel.

Waymo said on Sunday that Matthew Schwall had joined it from Tesla, where he was its main technical contact with U.S. safety investigators, and last week Tesla said senior vice president of engineering Doug Field was taking time off to recharge.

Last week, the NTSB opened a probe into an incident in which a Model S caught fire after crashing into a wall in Florida.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was not investigating the Utah crash. In March, a Tesla Model X SUV crashed on a California highway, killing the driver, and investigators are looking into the performance of the semi-autonomous driving system in that crash. Tesla subsequently modified both the hardware and software used by the semi-autonomous system.

After quitting his job from Tesla Inc., Mr. Schwall joined their rival company Waymo Inc last Monday.

A Tesla spokesperson told Newsweek on Tuesday: "Tesla has not yet received any data from the auto and thus does not know the facts of what occurred, including whether Autopilot was engaged".

Over the past few months, the NTSB has begun investigating several incidents linked to Tesla's cars.

"It certainly needs to be better and we work to improve it every day, but ideal is the enemy of good", Musk tweeted.