Most Likely Scenario Explained For Recent “My Tesla Crashed Itself” Incident – Video

MAY 12 2016 BY JAY COLE 79

Recently a fairly high profile incident of a Model S apparently taking a joyride all on its own, and then crashing into the back of a trailer, has hit the mainstream media (full details/video here).

A Utah Model S owner says that after he exited his car (and gave a little demo of how it operated to an onlooker), he entered a local business to go about his day…only to find upon his return that his Tesla had crashed into the back of a truck trailer.

Tesla Model S Impacts Trailer (via KSL)

Tesla Model S Impacts Trailer (via KSL)

Tesla Model S Meets Trailer During Summon - Specific Events In Dispute (via KSL)

Tesla Model S Meets Trailer During Summon – Specific Events Still In Dispute (via KSL)

The owner says the car acted on its own, Tesla logs show “the incident occurred as a result of the driver not being properly attentive to the vehicle’s surroundings while using the Summon feature or maintaining responsibility for safely controlling the vehicle at all times.”

Basically a “he said/Tesla says” scenario has broken out, with no reasonable conclusion or “how it actually happened” verdict on the horizon…until now.  

Tesla YouTube celebrity Kman (KmanAuto – subscribe here) has a pretty good idea how it happened, and passed the above video along to us on how he thinks it all went down, as well as some commentary on the incident and Tesla’s credibility on the matter.

Thanks to Kman!


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79 Comments on "Most Likely Scenario Explained For Recent “My Tesla Crashed Itself” Incident – Video"

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Thanks for taking the time to do the video.
Kill your dandelions!

Weed Killer didn’t work and it was been too rainy to mow the lawn.

“You know you’re a yuppie when you mow your lawn and find a Tesla!” (Apologies to Jeff Foxworthy).

You know you’re a redneck when you use your kid as a Tesla hood ornament….

Don’t remember the proportions, but water with salt will do, don’t use chemicals.
Nice to see alfa 164 on the driveway, it’s very rare in Europe already

Do you have something against bees? That weed killer does a number on them too. 😉

Those are are nice rims on the car. I bet it helps the range. Where did he get them?

They were made by Tesla for a very very short time, now completely sold out and near impossible to get.
Reduce drag by 5-15%, I found they give me a range of 10-30 additional miles per charge.

That’s just as good as having more cowbell!

15% less drag is amazing ! I hope we can get simualar on the M3

I love this guy. Was that an iWatch? Plus the lawn and the tree stump. Quite a contrast with his other car!

Can’t see the advantage in blaming the customer. Personally when you push a feature it should work a little better. I don’t understand why the camera isn’t used during Summon. Seems natural that it would.

In any event, the guy whose car got squished didn’t do a very good demo! LOL

Been too rainy to cut the lawn, mower will just sink in, and the weed killer obviously did not work 🙁
Just cut it today. warm and sunny 🙂

I hope you got an electric mower… =)

BTW, your dandelions are out of control. Time to use some of those weed/feed thing.

If you aren’t okay with chemicals, then it is time to use some elbow grease to remove them manually… =)

You otta see mine !No Lawn all dandelions! children go by and say, Look at all the pretty flowers mommy..

If you are a huge KManAuto fan, you know that he has an electric lawnmower that he build his own bad self. Also, as I recall, he electrified that Alfa Romeo.

Since the roots usually are at least 6 inches deep and they can go down to 15 feet, putting weed killer on the leafs is usually not terribly effective. LOL

Seeing those Weeds made me want to mow mine down, yes it is wet here but I can’t help but not wanting the weeds to live!

Shouldn’t the stupid thing “STOP” & NOT RUN INTO THINGS? I think they’d better fix that Flaw! There is no excuse on Tesla’s Part PERIOD!!!

Blows my mind they are blaming this on the customer!

The car is full of sensors and computers to prevent it from running into things, so there is no excuse. A customer should not even be allowed to “force” the car to crash, especially when he’s not in it, and has no steering or acceleration control!

If you are a beta tester like he was (special agreement) then how is it the manufacturers fault? The beta-summon is very limited and if you somehow thought otherwise it is your own fault. It is the same as using auto-steer (beta) on ramps.
The beta agreement makes one thing crystal clear: you are responsible for making sure nothing goes wrong.

Because it has sensors to detect collisions. Just because Tesla has you agree to a beta agreement, does that mean, they throw all sense out the window!

So if a kid is the way, the summon feature would drive over the kid? You want to talk about liability, you just wait to see how that will play out in court.

Tesla has to take every precaution to prevent collisions when the car is being auto-summoned, auto-parked, whatever.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to put 2 cameras, spread apart, inside the windshield, and that would allow the car to use depth perception?

I’m thinking further apart than that. The width of the windshield.

You mean like the one used in the Mercedes s+e-class? Yes that would be a nice idea.

I’m not finding it. Link?

“Intelligent networking.

The new functions all rely on the existing sensor system, comprising a new stereo camera and multi-stage radar sensors. These act as the eyes and ears of the vehicle. With the new stereo multi-purpose camera (SMPC), stereo camera for short, and “6D Vision” technology, the visual range of the vehicle is greatly increased. The camera provides spatial perception of up to 50 metres in front of the vehicle and environment recognition of 500 metres…”

Assistance functions are all collected under the naming intelligen drive at Mercedes.

“With the new stereo multi-purpose camera (SMPC), stereo camera for short, and “6D Vision” technology, the visual range of the vehicle is greatly increased. The camera provides spatial perception of up to 50 metres in front of the vehicle and environment recognition of 500 metres. ”
I couldn’t find a picture of the camera though. I’m guessing the lens separation isn’t that much. If they could put them at the edges of the windshield, I wonder if the could increase the performance/range.

Depth perception from a binocular camera is notoriously imprecise. That’s what the radar is for.

Professional athletes seem to do well with it.

One thing computer programmers have never been able to do well is to get computer programs to recognize objects (including obstacles) visually by using a camera (facial recognition programs being an obvious, but narrow, exception). That’s why, for instance, Google’s self-driving cars use a lidar scanner mounted on top of the car. Active scanning is a much more reliable way for a computer-operated system to be able to detect obstacles than the software program trying to analyze what it’s “seeing” on a camera image. It’s no surprise to me that Tesla isn’t trying to use the car’s cameras for collision avoidance. But I am surprised that Kman says there are sensors distributed all along the front of the car. Assuming that’s correct, then it seems odd to me that in a Consumer Reports test, a Model S failed to detect a bicycle parked at the front corner of the car. I assumed that was too far to the right to be within the area of sensor scanning, but if there are several sensors spaced along the front, then that’s not the problem. At any rate, as I said in a comment to InsideEV’s earlier article on this subject, Tesla needs… Read more »

I think the influx of big data and better algorithms will help with the camera recognition.

If the human brain can do it with data from a pair of eyes that can’t match cameras, then it can be coded for a computer to do it.

You nailed it.

Old Musk comments were about a totally camera based system, but I believe it was 6 cameras in total. Not sure I can find a reference to this though.

As a guess I would say front camera where it is, rear camera similarly in the middle. Then remove the side view mirrors for front and rear facing cameras.

Thanks for the video Kman!

It seems like a bad design to have a cancel button, instead of a confirm button on the center screen that would timeout if not pressed within a set amount of time. I’m assuming you don’t have to hit the forward or backward arrow if the correct direction is already selected (Kman wasn’t clear on that point).

I would have liked to see Kman activate the parking button Summons feature, close the door, and walk away from the car well past the key fobs alleged range. This is allegedly what the Utah owner did.

A couple of questions for Kman or other Tesla owners:
– What’s the longest pause between parking button clicks that would still activate Summons? (How quick does the double click have to be?)

– Is the parking button Summons activation feature commonly known among owners?

– What is the range of the key fob proximity sensor if the owner forgot or inadvertently activated the parking button Summons feature and walked away from the car?

– If a key fob is in range when a car starts moving under Summons, does walking away out of range automatically stop the car or does it keep going?

sven said: “I’m assuming you don’t have to hit the forward or backward arrow if the correct direction is already selected (Kman wasn’t clear on that point).” Hmm, I got the exact opposite impression from what Kman said in the video; seemed to me like he was saying you had to push either the front or back arrow on the screen to activate the system. I think this is an important point. If you can just double-tap the end of the steering wheel stalk, then exit the car and it will perform AutoPark by itself, then I can see someone getting distracted and not realizing the car was gonna move, even with the chime and the monitor display. You might, for example, mean to push the button on the stalk once, but push it again such a short time later that the car interprets it as a double-tap. And if you’re distracted and in the process of getting out of the car, I can see that you might not notice that. The chime is pretty soft, and I think it’s also used for other things, so unfortunately a driver could get into the habit of ignoring that. However, if the… Read more »

No, per Tesla it automatically initiates Autopark in the direction displayed, but you can change the direction by tapping the arrow.

See my verbose reply to kdawg a couple of comments down below. To use Autopark, Tesla actually requires you to disable the “hold down” safety feature it just added in the smartphone app!!!

Per Tesla:
“Automatically initiate Autopark after you exit the vehicle: Simply double-press the Park button on the end of the gear selector and a pop-up will appear on the touchscreen that displays the direction Model S will move after you exit the vehicle. You can change the direction Model S will travel by tapping the other arrow. Press the CANCEL button on the pop-up to cancel Autopark.”

sven, thank you for taking the time to clarify and giving a detailed response.

“To use Autopark, Tesla actually requires you to disable the ‘hold down’ safety feature it just added in the smartphone app!!!”

Ummm… ummm… Okay, speaking as a computer programmer, words fail me. That’s the same idiotic decision making that lead to the Chernobyl disaster. “Hey, we need to perform a safety drill; let’s take all of the reactor’s safety systems offline!”

Yeah, what could possibly go wrong?

Thank goodness the consequences in this case were so much less.

Much as I love what Tesla/Musk are doing, I totally agree that this scenario should never be possible. Driver error or not. Tesla: Disable immediately or fix with recall.

Should be a simple firmware upgrade to add an extra confirm step before replacing it with a cancel button

Wouldn’t the driver have noticed all of his hazard lights flashing?
I still think he butt-summoned his car from inside the building.

Good thing then that it hit that truck, or it would have met him inside the building. 😉

According to the Tesla logs detailed in a story in the The Verge, he used the park button.

Can you auto park with the keyfob?

Kind of. When Summon is activated by the key fob its called Summon. Autopark is just Summon activated by double pressing the park button inside the car. If you double press the park button inside the car to activate Summon, Tesla calls this Autopark. All Autopark does is allow you to automatically initiate Summon after you exit the vehicle. This avoids the first world problem of having to reach into your pocket to retrieve your key fob or smartphone to activate the Summons function. But if your car looks like it going to hit something, you have to quickly scramble to touch the door handle to stop the car, or reach into your pocket for your key fob or smartphone to stop the car. So Autopark is more unsafe than using the key fob, because Summons starts automatically, there is no “dead man” switch, and you don’t have the key fob or smartphone in your hand to suddenly stop it if need be. Tesla rolled out this new Autopark activation for Summon in the update after the Consumer Reports story. This update added a “hold down” function (dead man switch) to the smartphone app, while the key fob didn’t get… Read more »

kdawg said:

“Wouldn’t the driver have noticed all of his hazard lights flashing?”

Yes, it seems the driver ignored the message flashed on the car’s large display screen, and ignored the warning chime, and ignored the car’s flashing lights.

Tesla does need to install more short-range sensors to avoid collisions when using Summon, but at the same time, I hardly see how Tesla can be held liable for this accident. The driver apparently ignored no less than three warnings; two visual and one auditory.

“I still think he butt-summoned his car from inside the building.”

Well, we do need to know if it’s possible to activate AutoPark remotely. I can’t think of any good reason why Tesla would want anyone to be able to do that. The driver obviously needs to be present to be able to see if there are any obstacles when the car is moving. However, with the “There’s an app for that” mindset of today’s software programmers, enabling your cellphone to control everything in creation, perhaps there is a way to activate AutoPark remotely. If that’s so, then I certainly agree that Tesla should disable that immediately.

Tesla says that when using the smartphone app for Summon, the key fob must be within 10 feet of the car for Summon to work. But owners have been reporting that it sometimes works 40 feet away, and one even claimed it worked from 150 feet away in his office parking lot, and he posted video.

The 150 foot video was from this guy, scroll two comments down (comments 32 & 34):

Okay, so there was some really bad programming on the part of Tesla software engineers, and some really bad decision making on the part of some Tesla executives in enabling this function.

However, sven, you seem to have decided — against all evidence — that AutoPark was activated after the driver left his car. If he did what this article is claiming, then he told his car to pull forward while he was leaving it; when he certainly should have noticed that there was an obstacle parked much too close in front of the car for the car to pull itself forward safely.

Bad decision making on the part of Tesla programmers and executives does not excuse what would be considered “reckless endangerment” on the part of the driver had someone been injured. As it is, fortunately all he recklessly endangered was his car.

No, I think he activated Autopark before he exited the car, and there is a very good chance he is lying about not being there when the car moved into the trailer. But Tesla says the key fob must be within 10 feet of car for Autopark/Summon to work and owners are claiming that the fob sometimes works when 40 to 150 feet away (if the 150 feet away video is not a fake). I was just pointing out the possibility the owner could have walked away with the key fob and the car still detecting the distant key fob automatically Autoparked, because it was activated by the parking button inside the car before the driver exited.

At this point I don’t know who believe.

Oops, my apologies. I now see that I originally said: “when using the smartphone app for Summon.” That’s a typo on part. I should have said:

“Tesla says that when using Summon by key fob, smartphone app, or start button Autopark, the key fob must be within 10 feet of the car for Summon to work.”

It was late and I was getting sleepy. I rushed typing the comment and didn’t proofread it well, if at all.

Good grief. That should be “That’s a typo on my part.”

Proofreading is not my forte, especially when pressed for time.

Tesla should definitely take note and adjust as needed. It should never hit stationary objects but take a look at what it did hit. The sensing zones may all be below the bed of that trailer. May require a hardware change to fix. There are some parking garages that have overhangs like this. I found out the hard way backing into one in Ireland, OUCH!

The feature should be disabled on all Tesla’s until it can be made more reliable. The way it currently operates is a significant safety hazard.

It is obviously a design flaw and I agree that someone f..d up but that someone is Tesla. The owner activated autopark, that doesn’t mean the car should drive itself to a trailer. They should disable this autopark/autopilot nonsense before people get killed.

My guess is he was showing off how the system would detect objects in its path. Maybe he didn’t have the fob in his hand to cancel when it started going wrong. Based on the logs he was there. So he’s either lying or the logs are.

No matter who’s fault it is, I think most people are correct in stating that the car shouldn’t allow itself to hit something else when being self piloted under any allowable circumstances. Perhaps it should be using the camera at least to detect anything below the roof level.

Your theory makes sense, except for the fact that the car didn’t see the eye-level beams on the trailer. Your hypothesis is that the sensors are mounted down low, and from the photo of the incident, those sensors would still say that the car had a good 3-4 feet left to travel forward. Doesn’t the car have sensors higher to detect if the top of the car is going to hit? If not, maybe Tesla should add them.

This is nothing more than one more step on the learning curve towards autonomous cars. It also points out an interesting gap in the AI.

It’s also a sign the feature was not adequately tested before being released. Customers shouldn’t be alpha testers for autonomous features.

First thing that strikes my attention: If the point of contact is the portion of the trailer load that is over the tongue of the trailer that connects to the cab/tractor, why did the Tesla owner park on the wrong side of the street, facing against the flow of traffic, in the first place? Is that not just the first indication that the driver was not paying sufficient attention, and likely could have been given a parking ticket, in some jurisdictions, even without an auto summon issue?! Second, why would anyone want to park in front of this trailer like this, and then arrogantly leave their vehicle potentially in the way of the freight shipping company, so they have little to no room to connect a cab/tractor, if they needed to move the load, while he spent the day at work? Was it all just laziness, in that it was convenient, and close to the front door? I dunno, but it looks like a lot of things wrong with this picture, not counting the actual vehicle in question, nor what caused the impact, no matter how slow the Tesla might have been driving at the time it got jammed in… Read more »

I don’t know about that feature. You could accidentally hit park twice and exit and if you were distracted (trust me guys, it gets worse with age–I can EASILY see myself distracted enough to miss the screen warning and the flashers for several seconds), your car *could* indeed be under a flatbed or wandering into traffic before you knew it.

The tesla is the coolest car in the world! I hope the keep making it in black

I sold my Tesla stock yesterday after I had heard that they are about to run out of black paint.

I have summon and it is quite obvious that you need to be careful. A lot of worry about nothing here folks.

But if tesla wants to add more sensors gratis, I won’t object.

Otherwise, this thread is full of hyperbole. Unfortunately as insideevs grows, the quality of posts is declining. Same thing happening at TMC. Oh well….

I haven’t seen a lot of hyperbole, but I have seen ample evidence of a feature that has not been adequately tested. This is a safety issue and should be taken seriously.

You said: “The way it currently operates is a significant safety hazard.”

While not technically hyperbole, I would like to see your justification for claiming it’s a significant safety hazard.

As I understand it, the current implementation of this feature will detect (and therefore avoid hitting) objects on the ground in front of – or behind – the (extremely slow-moving) vehicle. This includes people, pets, vehicles, and objects that may either pose a risk to the vehicle, or vice-versa.

*With regards to safety*, none of these things are ever found suspended in the air in front of or behind the vehicle. If something is suspended above the level of the sensors, then yes it can strike them (assuming the vehicle owner is oblivious/unaware of the situation) – but there’s no safety issue there, since people and other vehicles are by definition always on the ground.

The situation described in this article is one of extremely few I can imagine where the vehicle could potentially strike something (while being summoned/auto-parked/what have you) – however, if we’re talking about SAFETY, it would never have happened if it was a person, or another passenger vehicle, that the Tesla was creeping up behind.

Looks like Tesla can just use the higher camera/sensor in the windshield in addition to the lower mounted sensor to fix this issues in the future.

Maybe another update coming?

Needs additional sensors mounted above the current locations. That requires additional hardware, not just a software fix.

Tesla is really luckily this car didn’t go plowing over someone’s kid. In that I grantee it would have been a muti million dollar lawsuit.

This also proves that a 80 ton truck should not be on the highway unattended.

One day there is going to be some type of massive glitch that causes all the self driving cars to go crashing off the world’s highways when someone hacks into it.

Ocean, check out the Volvo crashing into people inside a dealership while they do a demo of their tech, in the comments if the follow up story to this on –

It is pretty obvious, that a Tesla is more an Aircraft, that a car, in that it has much more functionality than most cars, and new drivers really should go through a multi-hour ‘Checkout’, just as you would in transition training from fixed gear, to retractable gear, in aircraft!

Just spending a few minutes with a new owner on delivery, just won’t cut it, as most people don’t even know how to downshift an automatic into 2nd to slow their car anymore!

This is true for more than Tesla’s, too! Before one is free to dive a new vehicle, sales staff should present all the features to the buyer, and then administer a written test, and transfer of liability/release form should be signed by the new owner!

Unfortunately, most sales staff, probably could not even pass the same test!

Seems like auto park has no limit, the car will keep going till it senses an obstacle. This is kind of crazy. It could cross a street that way. Auto park should not move the car more than one car lenght AND camera information needs to be integrated. The current solution is silly.

Using Summon To Unpark
To use summon to unpark, you must have used it to park Model S and the vehicle must have remained stationary since parked.

So …. it was not Autopark.

Tesla has an odd relationship with safety. It’s a core value, unless it conflicts with sales. Center console LCD: unsafe (distraction, no physical buttons) but boosts sales. Ludicrious mode: manifestly so. Autopilot: debatable. Initial version allowed the drivers seat to be completely empty. No redundant systems. Can disengage at any time. Still, may be safer than the average driver. Pedestrian safety systems: none OnStar-like crash emergency assistance: none Auto presenting doors: can bump people in some circumstances (lack of front sensors) Close on break pedal: passenger door can bump passenger Model X third row: second row auto adjustment feature can crush the legs of third row occupants Falcon wing doors: impedes immediate egress post-crash, rollover, or immersion. Prone to hitting heads, pinching fingers, and getting struck by traffic. Model X front windshield: less safe in the event of rollover. Model X rear mirror visibility: almost non-existent. Camera side mirrors: reliability, brightness issues. Adaptive air suspension: vulnerable to road debris spiking through the battery floor. Autostop: doesn’t actually stop, only reduces speed. Finally, Summon: accidents on pocket dial. Generally, though, Teslas are very safe, because they are very big, hard to rollover, have no engine, and are hard to ignite. These… Read more »

You forgot the most important safety omissions:
It doesn’t avoid public roads which are major safety hazards!
Tesla cars also allow you to use McDonalds drive-in – also a health hazard!
It only allow you to drive into the nearest cave or bomb shelter to maximize safety!

Four Electrics (aka Mark B. Spiegel, aka “Logical Thought”) said:

“Autopilot: debatable. Initial version allowed the drivers seat to be completely empty.”

Nope, but this is exactly the sort of FUD that we’ve come to expect from a paid Tesla basher and stock shorting promoter like you.

Some very determined idiots managed to bypass the AutoPilot failsafe features, by buckling the driver’s seat belt even when there was no one sitting there, plus either putting a weight into the seat or else disabling the seat’s pressure sensor. Both failsafes had to be intentionally defeated.

No company can be held responsible for people going out of their way to deliberately circumvent or disable robust safety features.

I certainly agree with you on the Autopilot, but he listed a looong list, which I happen to agree with most of.

Do you agree with those?

Everything in the car says you have to be in control of autopilot, summon and auto park. I am with Tesla on this. This guy may have done this on purpose- intentionally picking a spot where the sensors are lower than the object. Talk about drama king. This guy had intent to fool the system. His story does not match up with the car’s logs- they cannot lie.


Tesla has every right to call out someone who is manipulating, lying and creating drama about their product- which summon works very well and I use it every day.

Where did ‘Kman’ go? He was doing a great job of replying to posts about his lawn. I’m wondering if he has any thoughts on the Tesla log?

It wasn’t summon, it was auto park and you just watched a video where the owner needs to stop the car so it does not cross the street by itself. This is not sensible, or safe, behavior.