Musk defends self-driving cars after new crash

AP File
AP File

San Francisco - Tesla chief Elon Musk defended self-driving car technology on Tuesday after reports about the latest crash involving one of the electric carmaker's vehicles.

Musk lamented on Twitter about what he portrayed as an unfair focus on mishaps rather than benefits of autonomous vehicles with the potential to make roads safer.

"It's super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the (approximately) 40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage," Musk said in a tweet.

"What's actually amazing about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60 miles per hour (96km/h) and the driver only broke an ankle."

Whether an Autopilot feature was engaged when a Model S collided with the rear of a stopped fire truck in the US state of Utah on May 11 remained to be confirmed.

According to local media, police said the woman at the wheel of the car claimed it was in a self-driving mode and that her attention was on her phone.

READ: An Elon Musk tweet 'thrilled' an island desperate for Teslas

Musk complained in a recent earnings call that accidents involving self-driving cars get sensational headlines while the potential for the technology to save lives is downplayed or ignored.

Among accidents to make headlines was a fiery March 23 crash in California that involved its "Autopilot" feature.

The US National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident, which led to the death of a 38-year-old father of two, Walter Huang.

Tesla has released several statements on the accident, including a March 30 blog post that expressed sorrow for the family, but defended its technology and pointed responsibility for the crash on the driver.

Huang's hands were "not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision," Tesla said in the blog.

While its cars have Autopilot capabilities, people in the driver seats are called on to be paying attention and ready to take control of steering wheels.

The NTSB is also investigating a Tesla Model S crash that left two people dead and another injured in Florida.

The 2014 Tesla was reportedly travelling at high speed when it hit a wall then caught fire last week, the NTSB said in a release.

Autopilot self-driving capabilities of the Tesla were not expected to be involved, the NTSB said. The NTSB had yet to announce whether they will be looking into the Utah crash.

* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
ZAR/USD
15.17
(-0.01)
ZAR/GBP
20.43
(-0.13)
ZAR/EUR
18.41
(+0.01)
ZAR/AUD
11.28
(+0.01)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.28)
Gold
1833.04
(-0.37)
Silver
24.07
(+0.23)
Platinum
1057.00
(+3.33)
Brent Crude
48.78
(+0.95)
Palladium
2356.00
(+2.06)
All Share
59419.37
(+0.80)
Top 40
54500.04
(+0.61)
Financial 15
11646.83
(+2.17)
Industrial 25
79758.36
(+0.10)
Resource 10
57015.33
(+0.70)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, and I've gotten it.
21% - 381 votes
No, I did not.
52% - 942 votes
My landlord refused
27% - 497 votes
Vote