from the I'll-wait-until-the-bugs-are-ironed-out dept.
Tesla Model X driver dies in Mountain View crash
Submitted via IRC for Fnord666
The driver of a Tesla Model X has died following a highway crash in Mountain View, leaving a number of safety questions.
Tesla Crash: Model X Was In Autopilot Mode, Firm Says
In a post on its website, the electric-car maker said computer logs retrieved from the wrecked SUV show that Tesla's driver-assisting Autopilot technology was engaged and that the driver doesn't appear to have grabbed the steering wheel in the seconds before the crash.
The car's 38-year-old driver died after the vehicle hit a concrete lane divider on a Northern California freeway and caught fire. The accident happened March 23.
[...] In its Friday post, Tesla said the crashed Model X's computer logs show that the driver's hands weren't detected on the steering wheel for 6 seconds prior to the accident. It said they also show the driver had "about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider" before the crash but that "no action was taken."
The company cited various statistics in defending Autopilot in the post and said there's no doubt the technology makes vehicles safer than traditional cars.
"Over a year ago," the post said, "our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the US government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40 percent. Internal data confirms that recent updates to Autopilot have improved system reliability."
"Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents -- such a standard would be impossible -- but it makes them much less likely to occur," the post reads. "It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists."
But 16 months after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk kicked up controversy by acquiring the solar-panel installer founded by two of his cousins, its obligations are a strain on Tesla's finances. The $2 billion purchase came with a $2.9 billion debt load, and a chunk of that is soon coming due. That's bad timing for a company churning through about $6,500 a minute and trying to stave off the need for another capital raise. "SolarCity debt may not be the immediate cause of Tesla's problems, but it certainly isn't helping right now," said Alexander Diaz-Matos, an analyst at credit research firm Covenant Review LLC.
[...] Tesla's debt runs the gamut -- convertible bonds, promissory notes, term loans, cash-equity debt, asset-backed securities. Most of the total is tied to Tesla the automaker. But the energy unit, which includes the solar business, accounts for 27 of the 29 maturities set to come due through 2019.
[...] In recent months, Tesla's solar business lost the residential-solar throne to rival Sunrun Inc., a San Francisco-based installer with a market capitalization about half the SolarCity purchase price. Tesla ceded market share as it attempted to boost energy-unit profitability and scrapped SolarCity's costly door-to-door retail sales strategy. That was a smart move, according to Ross Gerber, co-founder of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management, which oversees more than $10 million in Tesla shares and options. He criticized the SolarCity deal but is still bullish on the company and Musk. "SolarCity was probably going to go bankrupt," Gerber said.
[...] For his part, Musk hasn't wavered from his commitment to turn Tesla into a one-stop shop selling solar panels to capture power, devices to store the energy and cars that can be charged in the garage. The company started producing photovoltaic glass tiles in December at a factory in Buffalo, New York, and has begun selling solar at some of its own stores and through retailer Home Depot Inc.
At least Tesla production is higher than ever.
Tesla Autopilot Crash Driver 'Was Playing Video Game'
An Apple employee who died after his Tesla car hit a concrete barrier was playing a video game at the time of the crash, investigators believe.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the car had been driving semi-autonomously using Tesla's Autopilot software.
Tesla instructs drivers to keep their hands on the wheel in Autopilot mode.
But critics say the "Autopilot" branding makes some drivers think the car is driving fully autonomously.
The NTSB said the driver had been "over-reliant" on the software.
Tesla does instruct drivers to keep their hands on the wheel when using Autopilot, and an audible warning sounds if they fail to do so.
Does the Tesla branding of "autopilot" lure drivers into driving dangerously?
Tesla Crash Likely Caused by Video Game Distraction
The NTSB has published a review of a fatal crash involving a Tesla in March 2018 that includes a set of safety recommendations.