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Tesla denies autopilot issues behind 2 recent deaths, touts its safety performance

The Tesla Model S that crashed and killed two men may have had someone in the driver’s seat. How do most people feel about autonomous vehicles anyway?

The company was able to determine that the steering wheel was “deformed” Elon Musk claims a Tesla with Autopilot has a 10 times lower chance of an accident than the average vehicle Audi plans on spending $16 bn on self-driving cars by 2023

Two men were killed after the Tesla they were in veered off the road, hit a tree, and burst into flames on Saturday, April 17 in Texas.

Originally, local authorities said no one was sitting in the driver’s seat, leading them to believe the fully electric 2019 Tesla Model S was in autopilot mode.

The two men who were in the fatal accident were found sitting in the front and back passenger seats, and the authorities believe no one else was in the car.

Maybe there was a driver, maybe not

The Tesla Model S that crashed and killed two men, may have had someone in the driver’s seat, according to Tesla’s top executives.  

Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, said the company was able to determine that the steering wheel was “deformed,” leading them to conclude there was someone in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.

“All seatbelts post-crash were found to be unbuckled,” Moravy added. 

Tesla’s advanced driver assist system, Autopilot, can only operate when the seatbelts are buckled.  

In the aftermath of the crash, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed that “data logs recovered so far” indicate that Autopilot was not engaged, nor had the vehicle owner purchased the company’s “Full Self-Driving” option that may have allowed the use of Autopilot on local roads. 

ReadApple is looking into producing autonomous cars by 2024

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Driverless car accidents

There is growing scrutiny over semi-automated driving systems. Tesla’s Autopilot system has particularly been under fire over the past years as a number of car crashes, sometimes fatal, have been linked to its system. 

Tesla, however, warns its customers that “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” 

Unfortunately, this warning is not always heeded. A number of Tesla car crashes, or near-crashes, have involved its customers putting their Teslas on Autopilot, and then falling asleep, or sitting in the passenger seat to watch movies.

In terms of driverless car crashes, there is an estimated one fatality per every 320 million miles driven as Policy Advice points out

Autopilot safety report- Tesla

Tesla has released its Autopilot-related safety report for Q1 of 2021 and the results have prompted Elon Musk to claim a Tesla with Autopilot has a 10 times lower chance of an accident than the average vehicle. 

Tesla revealed that it registered one accident for every 4.19 million miles driven by owners with Autopilot engaged. For those driving without Autopilot but other active safety features, there was one accident registered for every 2.05 million miles driven. Those driving a Tesla with neither Autopilot nor active safety features registered one accident for every 978,000 miles driven.

The car manufacturer noted that there is an automobile crash every 484,000 miles driven in the U.S., thus the claim that a Tesla running on Autopilot is 10 times less accident-prone than the average vehicle.

Autonomous stats

Policy Advice revealed some stats around autonomous vehicles (AVs). 

Roughly 33 million AVs will hit the road by 2040 and the global AV market currently sits at $54 billion. It is expected to increase tenfold in the next 5-7 years.

The German brand Audi plans on spending $16 bn on self-driving cars by 2023.

Some 55% of small businesses believe that they are going to have a fully autonomous fleet in the next two decades but only 16% of residents would feel comfortable letting a fully autonomous vehicle drive them around, even if it meant that they have absolutely no control themselves. Meanwhile, 52% of people believe that AVs still actually require some level of human control.

75% of people would much rather drive a car than ride in an autonomous car, Policy Advice said quoting Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.