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Tesla Model S owner says car drove itself into parked trailer, log data refutes claim

By Shawn Knight
May 12, 2016
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  1. A Tesla customer in Utah claims his Model S vehicle started itself and drove into / wedged itself under the back of a parked flatbed semi-trailer.

    The accident, which took place on April 29, occurred shortly after Jared Overton parked his Model S on the side of the road. An employee at a business he was visiting while running errands asked him a handful of questions about the electric vehicle before the two walked inside the business.

    When Overton returned five minutes later, he found the Model S wedged under the back of the semi-trailer.

    The owner told Salt Lake City TV station KSL that he couldn’t figure out how the vehicle managed to start on its own and pull forward into the trailer. After reporting the incident to Tesla, however, it appears as though his story doesn’t exactly add up.

    After looking at the vehicle’s internal logs, Tesla said the car’s Summon feature – currently in beta – had been activated. Here’s a snippet of the letter Overton received from a Tesla regional service manager that was obtained by The Verge:

    The vehicle logs confirm that the automatic Summon feature was initiated by a double-press of the gear selector stalk button, shifting from Drive to Park and requesting Summon activation. The driver was alerted of the Summon activation with an audible chime and a pop-up message on the center touchscreen display.

    At this time, the driver had the opportunity to cancel the action by pressing CANCEL on the center touchscreen display; however, the CANCEL button was not clicked by the driver. In the next second, the brake pedal was released and two seconds later, the driver exited the vehicle. Three seconds after that, the driver's door was closed, and another three seconds later, Summon activated pursuant to the driver's double-press activation request.

    Approximately five minutes, sixteen seconds after Summon activated, the vehicle's driver's-side front door was opened again. The vehicle's behavior was the result of the driver's own actions and as you were informed through multiple sources regarding the Summon feature, the driver is always responsible for the safe operation and for maintaining proper control of the vehicle.

    Data from the Model S log paints an entirely different picture of the incident and as the publication notes, both parties have every reason to shift responsibility to the other party.

    Tesla even states that its vehicle may not detect certain obstacles including those that are very narrow (like a bike), those that are lower than the fascia or objects hanging from a ceiling. While the Summon feature does allow owners to park their vehicle without having to be in it, Tesla says drivers should continuously monitor the vehicle’s movement and its surroundings at all times. Furthermore, Tesla implores the feature should only be used on private property.

    Tesla revised its Summon feature earlier this year, adding additional layers of safety that make it much more difficult to accidentally activate it. Now, its use is limited to a smartphone app in which owners must keep their finger on the screen for the feature to work. Removing the finger from the onscreen button will stop the car. Furthermore, the keyfob can now only be used to stop the vehicle, not drive it.

    That said, the accident highlights the continued need for additional research and development in the autonomous driving sector.

    Overton told KSL that Tesla can tell him what they want to tell him with the logs but that doesn’t change what he and another witness know happened.

    So, who do you believe? Was Overton trying to pull a fast one on Tesla and get them to repair the vehicle for free? Did Tesla fabricate the log data so its vehicle wouldn’t seem liable? Is the truth somewhere in the middle? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

    Image courtesy KSL-TV

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. ManuelV

    ManuelV TS Enthusiast Posts: 59   +26

    Kids and electric cars always tell the truth.
     
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  3. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,754   +1,107

    So what happened was, this guy used a feature in the exact way Tesla said it may not work, and he didn't follow the directions of 'Be prepared to stop your car with your keyfob' Also, Tesla's car clearly isn't smart enough not to drive it self into something. This would be why Tesla tells the owner to watch your car carefully while it's parking itself.

    What this guy must have done was click his Summon (parking feature) on and walked away. I don't see how Tesla is going to be responsible for fixing his car. He did exactly what they told him not to do.

    But let's be realistic about this... We're only supposed to use the auto-park on private property? Like our own garage? Useful for those of us with small garages (like me), but really boring. I want to pull up in front of a night-club with my all-black Model S and show everyone in line how it can park itself.
     
    Auth3ntic0 and Reehahs like this.
  4. Doomish

    Doomish TS Rookie

    I think Tesla is probably telling the truth about the logs. It should be easy enough for an audit of the system (if it were to go to court) to tell if the logs have been tampered with, and the people who work there should know that.
     
  5. JaymondoGB

    JaymondoGB TS Rookie Posts: 21   +7

    Im with Tesla on this one, I think the guy messed up, and wants someone else to pay for it. Plenty of people in the UK are like that, which is a shame. If you make the mistake, live with it, and pay up for the repair
     
  6. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,156   +1,431

    ...and it failed to maintain its own log records. I say - sue them twice!
     
  7. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

    Doesn't tesla have emergency stop features? Even if he was driving the car, the car would override his input and stop the vehicle. Even if he was driving, the cars computer still bugged out.
     
  8. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus TS Evangelist Posts: 1,667   +312

    It doesn't know 'look up'. It knows look forward... so it could 'see' the flatbed wheels, but not the load.
     
  9. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

    Well the tesla builds a 3d hemisphere around it so it absolutely should have been in view. While I wouldn't say that this guy wants a free pass is a stretch, from what I know about tesla's something hear smells fishy on their part too.
     
  10. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke TS Guru Posts: 930   +354

    We don't have the facts to know, and sadly today I don't trust either party to tell 'the whole truth and nothing but the truth'
    damn, seems skepticism is the price for modern living, this doesn't make me happy, seems simple belief in anything just isn't possible anymore.
     
    rpjkw11 likes this.
  11. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Guru Posts: 752   +273

    I think that if Tesla made the mistake, they could've made it quietly go away by fixing the car for an insignificant repair fee. But since they're sticking to their guns against this guy, I'm more inclined to believe them. Would cost more in reputation otherwise.

    I find too many people want to try getting companies to pay for their mistakes, and this looks like one...
     
  12. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,653   +523

    Here's a thought, the car did what it was supposed to, so did the driver, the car just got too close to the flatbed in front of it. The truck then backed up into it because the truck driver couldn't see the car and then GTFO'ed. I'm surprised no one else has thought of this scenario? Really? The data alone is not enough to go by at this time, did it not log how far it traveled while in self park mode? The data almost supports the driver, he went inside for about 5 minutes to come out to find his car pinned beneath the flatbed so he rushed over and opened the door perhaps? More than enough time for the truck driver to make himself scarce.
     
  13. Chris Just

    Chris Just TS Enthusiast Posts: 32

    You know if Tesla cars could just start up and drive in to things Tesla would not want anyone knowing. I read the article from the local paper on April 30 and it was real clear that people saw the owner in the store at the time of the accident, it was also made clear the alarm never went off and no one was seen getting in the car before or getting out after the accident, so A) The invisible man tried to steel the car and wrecked it and got away with no one seeing him, B) Someone hacked the car and made it drive itself or C) There is a problem with the auto drive system! Tesla right now after spending $750 million to upgrade their auto plant according to their stock holders report for this past quarter could not afford a massive recall and both the hacking option and the car just having a problem with the auto drive system would cause a recall and work around fix to all models with the auto drive system.
     
  14. Thrackerzod

    Thrackerzod TS Enthusiast Posts: 40   +30

    Summon feature? Are people now too lazy to even walk to their car?
     
  15. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,560   +2,901

    I keep wondering if this happened the same way, people accidentally set off their vehicle's panic alarm while in their home. Sometimes it takes them a while before they realize they did it.
     
  16. Guest17

    Guest17 TS Enthusiast Posts: 92   +37

    Seems like the owner may have forgotten to tighten the nut behind the wheel.
     
  17. Lifeispossible

    Lifeispossible TS Rookie

    Dont leave out the possibily of sabotage by the oil companies.
     
  18. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,234   +201

    I may be over my infatuation with Tesla. I'd now like a hydrogen cell vehicle. If I win the lottery I'll buy one of each and post my review on Techspot.
     
  19. murray02

    murray02 TS Rookie

    I am looking forward to 5 years down the line when all these Tesla patents which are 100% public are consumed by the mega car companies and we start to see huge advances in the technologies.

    I believe a company in the UK created a material that pretty much nullifies the degradation of these batteries. Ford and BMW are already looking at these. The future looks bright, but I will hold off for just that "the future"...
     
    bazz2004 likes this.
  20. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,234   +201

    We need to make another leap forward from where we are. My diesel is certainly not environmentally friendly and long due for replacement. Apart from the pollution side of things it still works great. I would like something on the lines of an electric car but they are not yet an attractive option. The current scandal over emissions being rigged confirmed my suspicions that most of the development of the internal combustion engine is all smoke and mirrors.
     
    cliffordcooley and murray02 like this.
  21. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,234   +201

    The new age is very close though. With improved battery technology and keen pricing and everybody will be wanting one.
     
  22. John Gallstone

    John Gallstone TS Rookie

    These self driving features are inherently dangerous and stupid. It won't be long before states start outlawing them. how lazy do you need to be? Maybe they'll invent a new gadget to remove the feces from your behind without even dropping your drawers. I'm sure Americans will flock to that too.
     
  23. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,560   +2,901

    We get the point. You could have said that without discriminating. There really is not that much difference between any of us in this regard.
     
  24. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,560   +2,901

    So unless you can use your cellphone to call for help, you wouldn't use a car that is self-reliant. Because seriously in a location that is not flooded with signal transmissions is where autonomous cars will have the least trouble.
     
  25. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,624   +378

    Some people try to play off the bad PR to force the company to settle. I hope Elon tells him to go jump (assuming Tesla is not actually at fault).
     

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