The driver of the Tesla Model S that crashed while on Autopilot mode on May 11 in Utah admitted that she was looking at her phone when the accident happened.
The semi-autonomous Tesla Autopilot, meanwhile, remains under siege from critics, prompting Tesla CEO Elon Musk to fire back and defend the technology.
Tesla Autopilot Crash In Utah: Here's What Happened
On May 11, a Tesla Model S crashed into the back of a firetruck. The electric vehicle was travelling at 60 miles per hour at the time of impact, and witnesses said that the car did not hit the brakes before crashing into the firetruck.
The driver revealed that the vehicle was in Autopilot mode at the time, marking the incident as another Tesla self-driving accident. The woman estimated that the vehicle's speed before it crashed was at 60 miles per hour, coinciding with eyewitness accounts. However, she also admitted that she was looking at her phone.
The crash resulted in a destroyed Model S, a firetruck driver who was checked for whiplash but was unharmed, and a broken ankle for the Model S driver.
The Tesla Autopilot system uses various sensors, cameras, and radar to provide semi-autonomous driving to drivers. If activated, the vehicle will be able to change lanes, steer, brake, and park on its own. Tesla, however, tells drivers in the owner's manuals of its electric vehicles that when Autopilot is activated, they should remain attentive, with their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road.
Elon Musk Defends Tesla Autopilot
With her eyes on her phone instead of on the road, it was clear that the driver was at fault for not following the instructions of the Tesla Autopilot feature. However, critics will see the incident as another way to demand for the technology to be taken off the road.
The Tesla Autopilot feature is already under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board for a recent Tesla Model S crash that killed two teenagers and injured another one in Florida. With the latest crash in Utah, it will draw additional scrutiny, and apparently Tesla CEO Elon Musk thought it was time to defend the feature.
What’s actually amazing about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60mph and the driver only broke an ankle. An impact at that speed usually results in severe injury or death. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2018
Musk admitted that the work to improve Tesla Autopilot technology has not finished, but the company appears to be committed to making the system as safe as possible for its customers.
It certainly needs to be better & we work to improve it every day, but perfect is enemy of good. A system that, on balance, saves lives & reduces injuries should be released. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2018
What will the critics say next?