Two men were killed earlier this month after a 2019 Tesla Model S reportedly veered off the road, crashed into a tree and burst into flames. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that data logs recovered from the vehicle “show Autopilot was not enabled” at the time of the crash, despite authorities’ claim that neither man was behind the wheel.
As law enforcement continues to investigate the fatal April 17 incident in Spring, Texas, engineers with Consumer Reports (CR) have decided to conduct their own related test of the Tesla autopilot system, to explore whether it would in fact be possible to activate the driver assistance feature without being in the driver’s seat.
The CR video shows that Fisher secured a weight to the steering wheel to simulate the pressure of a driver’s hand. He also sat on top of a buckled seatbelt, as unbuckling one’s seatbelt or failing to interact with the steering wheel causes autopilot to disengage.
As the vehicle took several trips across CR’s test track, the system did not issue an alert – despite Fisher moving from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat. This suggests that there may not be a weight sensor in the driver’s seat.
Consumer Reports’ comes days after the Tesla CEO took to Twitter to blast reports that autopilot was at fault.
“Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have,” he said, referring to the fatal Texas wreck.
Herman noted investigators were confident in their determination “just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact.”