July 13, 2016
Tesla will not disable Autopilot in its vehicles, despite the system being under investigation by U.S. regulators after two crashes, one of them fatal.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk told The Wall Street Journal that education in the use of the system is key.
“A lot of people don’t understand what it is and how you turn it on,” Musk said, adding that Tesla plans to publish guidelines on how Autopilot works and what drivers must do once they choose to activate the system.
Musk said he advocated for the launch of Autopilot as soon as possible because “we knew we had a system that on balance would save lives.”
Tesla’s Autopilot system is currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The regulatory body is looking into the role the system played in two crashes: a fatal crash May 7 involving a Tesla Model S vehicle and a July 1 crash involving a Model X.
On Tuesday, the NHTSA made public a letter that requested Tesla hand over documents detailing other crashes that might involve the Autopilot system.
A NHTSA spokesman told the WSJ the request was a standard one.
“NHTSA has not made any determination about the presence or absence of a defect in the subject vehicles,” he said.
Tesla said it had received the request and would be giving the agency its full co-operation.
The electric car company went public with the investigation two weeks ago and released details of the fatal collision.
Ohio resident Joshua Brown was killed in Williston, Florida when his Model S crashed into the side of a semi-tractor trailer that was crossing both lanes of a divided highway in front of the victim’s oncoming vehicle.
The July 1 crash appears to be significantly different. Albert Scaglione’s Model X hit a guardrail and crossed several lanes before hitting a concrete median. Both Scaglione and his passenger, son-in-law Tim Yanke, survived the collision. Scaglione has claimed to have activated Tesla’s autopilot before the crash occurred.
Tesla has said it disables autopilot by default and explicit acknowledgement that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase is required before it can be enabled.