Details of the crash in January have only just emerged.
Reports emerging from Chinese media today claim that the first first fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S running in Autopilot mode actually happened in China, not the United States as originally thought.
According to the reports, the crash occurred in January of this year when a Model S struck a road sweeper truck on the side of a highway. The 23-year old driver, who was using his father’s car, died in the crash. His family subsequently sued Tesla. Details of the crash have only just come to light, including the dashcam footage you can see above.
The footage apparently shows the car hitting the truck at unabated speed. The driver’s family have said Tesla should take responsibility for the failure of the Autopilot system to prevent the crash.
In an statement given to Electrek, Tesla said it has been unable to conduct an investigation into the crash, due to the extent of the damage the car sustained.
“We were saddened to learn of the death of our customer’s son,” the statement read. “We take any incident with our vehicles very seriously and immediately reached out to our customer when we learned of the crash. Because of the damage caused by the collision, the car was physically incapable of transmitting log data to our servers and we therefore have no way of knowing whether or not Autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash. We have tried repeatedly to work with our customer to investigate the cause of the crash, but he has not provided us with any additional information that would allow us to do so.”
It had been thought that first Autopilot fatality occurred in May. Joshua Brown was killed when his car’s sensors failed to recognize a semi-trailer turning across the highway in front of it.
In August, dashcam footage showed another Model S side-swiping a vehicle under similar circumstances to those in the January crash, again in China. After that incident, the wording on Tesla’s Chinese website was altered to avoid any confusion about the capabilities of the Autopilot system, which had been cited as a contributing factor in the crash.
Earlier this week, Tesla announced a raft of updates for Autopilot, including a switch from using cameras as the primary data source, to radar.