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Tesla blames Model S owner for autonomous driving crash

by Jacob Kleinman | May 15, 2016May 15, 2016 9:00 am PST

Tesla doesn’t offer a full-fledged self-driving car, but the company has rolled out a few autonomous features. Now it turns out one of those capabilities may be the blame for a recent Model S crash.

A Tesla car owned by Utah man Jared Overton drove itself into a trailer last month, smashing the electric vehicle’s windshield in the process. Overton tells KSL that the Model S moved on its own when he had already left the scene, but Tesla claims he may be at fault based on the car’s official data log.

In a statement to KSL the company noted that Summon mode had been activated on the Model S in question three seconds after Overton exited the vehicle. The self-driving feature is still in beta, and may require human intervention.

“Summon requires that you continually monitor your vehicle’s movement and surroundings while it is in progress and that you remain prepared to stop the vehicle at any time using your key fob or mobile app or by pressing any door handle,” Tesla explained.

But Overton isn’t buying it. He claims the car moved completely on its own, arguing that if Tesla was right he would have seen the crash happen.

“They can tell me what they want to tell me with the logs, but it doesn’t change what we know happened here,” he told KSL.  “They’re just assuming that I sat there and watched it happen, and I was OK with that.”

It’s unclear if the mystery will ever be resolved, and Tesla seems ready to move on. Meanwhile, Overton is already driving a “loaner” Tesla but says he hopes the company will look into the issue further to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

KSL Tesla

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...