We have just learned from ABC TV that the driver in the fatal Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model X accident had allegedly been complaining about Autopilot, before the accident in which he died:
Let’s first point out that according to Tesla, they don’t even know whether Autopilot was engaged at the time of the accident (or immediately prior). We also don’t know what other factors might have been involved. There is an investigation, and from what I can see, no conclusion at this point. Here is Tesla’s statement: What We Know About Last Week's Accident
All that said, I came across an eerie warning at the 7:40 mark in this weekly Tesla podcast:
Mind you, while this podcast was published on Sunday March 25 at 9am Eastern Time, the lack of references to Friday’s fatal Tesla Model X accident suggests that neither the podcast host, nor the caller (“Matt from New York”) who provides the Autopilot behavior warning, was aware of it at the time. In other words, the comments from the caller were likely recorded before the accident. The podcast is often recorded at least a day or two before it is posted on Sunday morning, and the caller who called in with the warning, obviously called in even earlier than that -- perhaps multiple days.
Summarizing the eerie warning, the Tesla owner who called into the show warns against the latest Tesla Autopilot release causing the car to be confused at an exit ramp, splitting the difference between the exit and staying on the freeway. That sounds like what happened with Friday’s accident, no?
Listen carefully a few times over, to what the caller says, starting at the 7:40 mark. It’s only approximately 90 seconds, but it’s clear that the caller is very concerned about this latest Tesla Autopilot software release, and how it has impacted his car’s ability to handle safe driving when approaching a freeway exit.
While we don’t even know (at this point anyway) whether the fatal accident last week involved Autopilot usage at all --if it did, that person might have benefited by hearing this warning before getting into the car that day. Listen to the warning yourselves, a few times over and over again, and see if it gives you the chills.
Disclosure: I am/we are short TSLA.
Additional disclosure: At the time of submitting this article for publication, the author was short TSLA. However, positions can change at any time. The author regularly attends press conferences, new vehicle launches and equivalent, hosted by most major automakers.