In an on-going effort to stay abreast of what seems to be the vehicles of the future, we’re tracking the ups and downs, successes and failures of automated cars.
Recently, a Tesla Model X crashed into the side of an Anytime Fitness gym in Lutz, Florida, after driving through the wall of a vacant storefront. Fortunately, the car narrowly missed the people using the gym equipment and there were no reports of any injuries, including the driver.
The woman driving the car, according to the accident report filed by the Florida Highway Patrol, told law enforcement authorities that the car “would not stop accelerating forward,” as she tried to pull into a parking spot. The officers found no evidence of the woman being under the influence.
The investigation into the cause of the accident is on-going. The Model X has autopilot technology. What adds concerns to this accident is the fact that Tesla was in the news in March when a Model X driver died after crashing on a California highway while in semi-autonomous autopilot mode.
Tesla states the driver in the California accident failed to respond to the system’s visual and audible warnings earlier in the drive, and said his hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. Autopilot is capable of maintaining speed, changing lanes, and self-parking, but Tesla says drivers must still keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road in case of sudden incidents occurring up ahead.
Authorities are investigating whether or not autopilot was engaged at the time of this most recent crash.
According to Tesla’s website, its autopilot can maneuver itself around a highway “without requiring driver input” as well as “self-park when nearing a parking spot.” The vehicles are advertised to be fully capable of navigating a parking lot with the ability to “search for a spot and park itself” with or without a driver in the vehicle.
In a statement, Tesla stated that the company takes the safety of its customers “very seriously,” adding, “We investigate the vehicle diagnostic logs in every accident in which a driver claims their car ‘suddenly’ and ‘unexpectedly’ accelerated, and in every case the vehicle’s diagnostic logs confirm that the vehicle operated as designed.
“Accidents involving ‘pedal misapplication,’ in which a driver presses the accelerator pedal by mistake, occur in all types of vehicles, not just Teslas. The accelerator pedals in Tesla vehicles have two redundant sensors that clearly show us when the pedal is physically pressed down, such as by the driver’s foot.”
Oddly, this is not the first time a Tesla vehicle has made contact with a Florida fitness facility. In 2016, a Model S vehicle suddenly went out of control and crashed into a gym in Lighthouse Point. In that accident, the driver insisted the car accelerated by itself. Tesla states that the logs show the driver pressed the gas pedal shortly before the crash, adding that their cars “do not accelerate without the driver instructing it to do so,” and that “in every situation we have received a customer claim about this, the vehicle’s diagnostic logs have confirmed that the acceleration was the result of the driver pressing the accelerator pedal.”
We would like to know your thoughts about how you see autonomous vehicles evolving and how comfortable you would feel having them on the road while you drive. Do let us know.
Group Matrix Blog – May 23, 2018 – by Sharon Bowles