Tesla shares fall after driver claims vehicle crashed while using autopilot

Jay Anderson
July 18, 2017

A suburban Twin Cities man is blaming the autopilot feature of his luxury electric vehicle for a crash that sent him and four passengers into a central Minnesota marsh. Clark and four adult passengers sus-tained minor injuries, police said.

"To the best of my recollection I had engaged the autopilot system but then I had disengaged it by stepping on accelerator", Clark wrote.

According to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office, the driver of the vehicle, 58-year old David Clark, was approaching an intersection when he turned the Autopilot system on, causing the auto accelerate suddenly and veer off the road.

In its police report obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office said David Clark, 58, blamed Autopilot for a crash Saturday evening in Hawick, Minnesota.

On Monday afternoon, Musk took to Twitter to explain his own comments: "I should clarify: Tesla stock is obviously high based on past & present, but low if you believe in Tesla's future". I then remember looking up and seeing the sharp left turn, which I was accelerating into. Tesla said it’s investigating and will cooperate with local authorities.

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Other "sudden acceleration" crashes have been attributed by motorists to the autopilot technology.

Clark confirmed to the AP that he sent the email.

The autopilot feature uses cameras, radar and computers to detect objects and automatically brake if the vehicle is about to hit something. When drivers turn on the system, a message reminds them to remain engaged and be prepared to take the wheel. For example, Mercedes-Benz has a steering-free mode, but it requires hand contact with the steering wheel. Months after a fatal May 2016 crash in which the Autopilot system and the vehicle's driver failed to brake for a semi truck that was crossing a Florida highway, Tesla began shipping each of its new vehicles with more cameras and sensors to give them 360-degree visibility. In that case, a Tesla Model S hit a tractor-trailer.

It is unclear if the agency will investigate the Minnesota crash. "We have not yet established whether the vehicle's autopilot feature was activated and have no reason to believe [it] worked other than as designed".

Tesla shares were down about 2 percent to $321.13 in afternoon trading.

Other reports by BadHub

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