A Tesla vehicle crashed in China on Wednesday after the driver mistook ‘autopilot mode’ for a ‘self-driving’ function.
The driver is now pointing fingers at Tesla sales staff for overplaying the car’s actual capabilities, claiming they implied that the system should take control of steering and braking under certain conditions.
Tesla says Luo Zhen, the driver of the car, was responsible for maintaining control of the vehicle, but their investigation revealed his hands were not detected on the wheel.
The crash, Tesla’s first known such incident in China, comes five months after a fatal accident in Florida, which turned up pressure on auto industry executives and regulators to tighten rules on automated driving technology.
Zhen, 33 year old programmer at a tech firm, was driving to work and engaged the autopilot function as he often does on Beijing’s highways, he told Reuters in his first interview with international media.
He filmed the incident with a dashboard camera and said his car hit a vehicle parked half off the road.
The accident sheered off the parked vehicle’s side mirror and scraped both cars, but caused no injuries.
‘The driver of the Tesla, whose hands were not detected on the steering wheel, did not steer to avoid the parked car and instead scraped against its side,’ a Tesla spokeswoman said in an emailed response to Reuters.