A Tesla owner is blaming an accident that took place recently in Whitehall, Montana, on the company’s semi-autonomous Autopilot technology. The news of the crash comes in the wake of two accidents — including a fatal one in Florida — in which Autopilot was allegedly involved.
A message posted on the Tesla Motors Club forum by user Eresan explains that his friend was traveling in a Model X at about 60 mph in a 55-mph zone with Autopilot turned on when the crossover veered off the road and hit a wooden guardrail. The impact sheared off the passenger’s side front wheel, the fender, and the headlight, and it badly damaged the entire right side of the body. The two occupants walked away without major injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn’t commented on the crash. It’s already investigating two other accidents in which Autopilot was allegedly involved. In the first case, a 40-year-old man was killed when his Model S drove under a semi-truck trailer that Autopilot allegedly failed to detect. In the second case, a Model X crashed into a guardrail, bounced off, hit the concrete median, and rolled. Luckily, the two occupants in that accident were uninjured.
Tesla has repeatedly stressed that its Autopilot software is still in beta mode, and that engaging it doesn’t mean the driver can stop paying attention to the road ahead. Additionally, the company discourages motorists from using Autopilot on a road without a center divider, and it clearly warns that the software isn’t designed to avoid a collision with an object in the road.
The driver contacted Tesla a few hours after the crash, but the California-based automaker hasn’t spoken out publicly yet. A spokeswoman for Tesla told Digital Trends via email that the company is looking into the crash.
Updated 7/12/16 by Ronan Glon: Added statement from Tesla.