Tesla In Hot Water: Autopilot System Involved In Fatal Crash In China

Tesla Motors is again under scrutiny for the safety of its autopilot system after its Model S sedan was involved in a fatal crash in China in January.

Gao Yaning, 23 years old, died Jan. 20 in a crash wherein his father's Tesla Model S sedan that he was driving slammed into a street cleaning truck. The accident destroyed the vehicle's logs. However, released dash cam footage shows the car slamming into the slow-moving truck, killing the driver instantly.

The report reveals that the autopilot feature of the vehicle was engaged during the fatal crash. Based on the video captured, there were no signs that the vehicle or the car applied the brakes before crashing into the truck.

The victim's family has sued Tesla in Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court. Tesla, however, can't confirm if the autopilot feature of the vehicle was turned on during the accident. They also maintained that the victim's family had not cooperated with their investigation.

"We were saddened to learn of the death of our customer's son. We take any incident with our vehicles very seriously and immediately reached out to our customer when we learned of the crash," Tesla said in a statement. "Because of the damage caused by the collision, the car was physically incapable of transmitting log data to our servers and we therefore have no way of knowing whether or not Autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash." 

This is not the first time Tesla faced scrutiny over the safety of its autopilot system. In May, an American died in a car crash while driving Tesla's Model S. Similar but non-fatal accidents also happened in Switzerland and China. Recently, the company updated and revised language on its Chinese website reiterating that its autopilot feature is not the same as self-driving. 

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