Tesla Investigates Deadly China Collision; Could Be the First Fatal Autopilot Crash

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
tesla investigates deadly china collision could be the first fatal autopilot crash

The death of a young Chinese man in a Tesla this past January could be the first fatality linked to a malfunctioning Autopilot system.

Tesla claims it is investigating the crash as the company faces a lawsuit filed by the man’s family, Reuters reports. Unlike a fatal Florida crash in May, this collision has video evidence.

Chinese media has identified the victim as 23-year-old Gao Yaning. The man died after his Tesla Model S crashed into the back of a street sweeping truck while travelling in the far left lane of an expressway.

In a statement to Reuters, Tesla claims it “has no way of knowing” if the vehicle’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system was engaged at the time of the crash.

“Because of the damage caused by the collision, the car was physically incapable of transmitting log data to our servers,” Tesla stated.

Autopilot factored into the May death of Joshua Brown, whose Model S collided with a semi trailer on a Florida highway. Due to unusual light conditions, the Autopilot in Brown’s car failed to recognize a truck crossing the highway. The crash led to a firestorm of controversy over the system’s safety, sparking federal investigations.

Under pressure, Tesla agreed to update the system’s technology, detailing the new system in a recent blog post.

While Tesla claims it doesn’t know if Autopilot played a role, a dashcam video aired on China’s CCTV shows Yanning’s crash from inside the vehicle. The video shows the Tesla speeding along in the far left lane, not swerving or slowing before it impacts the truck, which is seen hugging the barrier — half in and half out of the lane. The weather seems foggy (or smoggy), with the vehicle driving towards the rising or setting sun.

At first glance, the odd light conditions and the fact that the occupant doesn’t take over control as the truck approaches implies an Autopilot failure, though we can’t know for sure.

According to its statement, Tesla claims it tried to work with the victim’s family to determine a cause, but no useful information cropped up. The family filed a lawsuit against Tesla in July.

[Image: CCTV]

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  • APaGttH APaGttH on Sep 14, 2016

    Tesla will behave like every other automaker. 01 REM This short program is used by every automaker when product 05 REM liability is a possibility. Tyler Durden approves. 10 PRINT:"Operator error." 20 GOTO 10 30 END

  • Roberto Esponja Roberto Esponja on Sep 15, 2016

    Noticed that the truck didn't have Mansfield bars...guess they're not required in China?

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