This one is a bit hard to call.
New technology is often buggy, but there’s a big difference between a computer program crashing and a car crashing. Jared Overton of Lindon, Utah, learned that the hard way when his Tesla Model S equipped with Summon smashed into the back of a flat-bed trailer. Summon is a feature that allows the Model S to enter and exit parking spots by itself. It’s activated via a smartphone app; previously it was controlled via a key fob but that was done away with due to fears of what would happen if the fob dropped.
According to Salt Lake City’s KSL.com, Overton was running errands when he made a stop at a business, parking his car “well behind a trailer.” He exited his vehicle and stopped to chat with an employee of the business about the car for what he estimates to be 20 seconds to a minute. He then went inside the business and came out five minutes later to find that his Model S had driven into the back of the trailer. Now the timeline is important because Tesla has a different version of how this accident went down. According to the company’s data logs Overton initiated self-park while he was inside his Model S. After exiting the car Summon activated a few seconds later, with the car ramming into the back of the trailer.
According to the data logs this means Overton would have watched his car crash, a fact which he disputes (obviously). “They’re just assuming that I sat there and watched it happen, and I was OK with that,” Overton told KSL. Tesla’s data is pretty intense, with the company saying that the driver’s side door handle was opened approximately 05:16 after Summon was activated. This seems to put the blame, and the $700 repair bill, squarely on Overton. Still, Tesla’s tech should be good enough for the Model S to recognize that it’s about to drive straight into a trailer. And also, how the hell would Overton not notice his car was driving itself straight to doom almost immediately after he exited it?
Of course it’s possible Overton is lying about the entire incident in an attempt to shirk his repair bill. But if the cost for a new windshield really is only $700 then he’s going to some extreme lengths. He also told KSL that his concern was less about the money and more about the dangers of the potentially buggy/not-all-the-way-there-yet tech. “Imagine if a child was right there — I guarantee that they would be responding to this a lot differently. I will not feel safe with my little boy playing in the garage or the driveway if there’s the potential for a rogue vehicle.”
Here's the news report from KSL News. Watch it and then let us know who you are siding with. Are you going with man or machine?