Connect with us


No, Media & Politicians — Autopilot & TACC Weren’t On In The Houston Crash




After listening to the Tesla Q1 earnings call the other day, I wrote an article about new information that was revealed about the tragic crash that occurred near Houston, Texas. From what I had heard, it was apparent that neither Autopilot nor TACC (traffic-aware cruise control) were in use at the time of the crash, and that there was evidence that a person was in the driver’s seat.

Now, we’re seeing media reports and even statements from a politician (see below) saying that Tesla told us TACC was on, and even stretching this to mean that Autopilot was therefore on. In this article, I’m going to address this issue and explain what was really said.

What Was Said On The Call, Verbatim

When an investor asked about false or misleading media reporting, Elon Musk agreed. He said that the media reports indicating that Autopilot was on were completely false.

The key part was when Lars Moravy, VP of Engineering for Tesla, said the following:

“Regarding the crash in Houston specifically, we worked directly with the local authorities, NTSB, and NHTSA wherever applicable, and whenever they reach out to us for help directly on the engineering level and whenever else we can support.

“In that vein, we did a study with them over the past week to understand what happened in that particular crash and what we’ve learned from that effort was that autosteer did not and could not engage on the road conditions as it was designed. Our adaptive cruise control only engaged when a driver was buckled and above 5 miles per hour, and it only accelerated to 30 miles per hour over the distance before the car crashed. As well, adaptive cruise control disengaged the cars fully to complete to a stop when the driver’s seatbelt was unbuckled.

“Through further investigation of the vehicle and the accident remains, we inspected the car with NTSB and NHTSA and the local police and were able to find that the steering wheel was indeed deformed, leading to a likelihood that someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash and all seatbelts post-crash were found to be unbuckled.

“We were unable to recover the data from the SD card at the time of impact, but the local authorities are working on doing that, and we await their report.”

I transcribed this myself, and went over it 5 times to make sure I got every word correct. The only thing I skipped were umms, ahhs, and a sentence fragment where Mr. Moravy restarted a sentence to be more accurate.

If you’d like to listen to the original recording yourself, you can find it on YouTube here (link goes to exact time).

No, TACC was NOT On

When I saw media outlets reporting that TACC was on based on Mr. Moravy’s statement, I initially thought I could have misunderstood it, and prepared to correct my past article on this. When I double-checked the statement to make sure my past article was accurate, I noticed several things.

Moravy indicated that they did a study to help authorities determine what happened in the accident, and went on to describe cars doing things that we know the crashed vehicle did not do. This includes:

  • Car not accelerating over 30 MPH in distance to crash (authorities say the vehicle was going a “high rate of speed”)
  • Adaptive cruise control bringing cars to a complete stop if seatbelt was unbuckled

You’ll notice that I put “cars” in bold above. That’s because we know that only one vehicle was involved in the crash in Texas. The fact that a study was conducted by Tesla engineers and that multiple vehicles were brought to a complete stop indicates that Tesla used test vehicles to make these determinations, and were definitely not describing the behavior of the doomed Tesla Model S that crashed in Texas.

The only statements Moravy made about the actual crashed vehicle were:

  • Steering wheel was deformed
  • All seatbelts were found to be unbuckled
  • Data from SD card wasn’t readable, but authorities are still working on that

Now, when we combine the test study’s findings with the information about the vehicle, we find that TACC was not likely to be engaged. Reason #1: TACC disengages if the driver’s seatbelt is unbuckled, and seatbelts were unbuckled. Reason #2: TACC (which accelerates relatively slowly on its own) only brought the vehicle to 30 MPH in the distance the crashed car traveled, and it wasn’t going that slowly.

At this point, any reasonable reading or listening of what Moravy said makes it pretty clear that he was providing evidence that TACC was NOT engaged in the Houston area crash.

TACC Alone ≠ Autopilot

It’s bad enough to not listen carefully to make sure you’re right about something before publishing, like this article did. We all make mistakes, though, and I’ve made my share, so I’m not going to beat up a bunch on people who seem to have made an honest mistake.

Intentional stretches of the truth and context robbery aren’t something we should forgive so easily, though. CBS–DFW ran a piece saying that not only did they think TACC was enabled, but that having TACC on means that part of Autopilot was on. The claim is that TACC is part of what makes Autopilot run, and that since part of Autopilot was running, that means the car was using an Autopilot feature.

This is basically the same as saying a person is wearing socks when they only have one sock on. The definition of socks is that you’ve got multiple socks on (for humans, this number is typically two). Autopilot means that TACC, autosteer, and several other features are all running together. If even one feature is not running, then Autopilot is not running, by definition.

That we have to explain simple logic like this is very disappointing.

Worse, Congressman Kevin Brady said, “Despite early claims by #Tesla #ElonMusk, autopilot WAS engaged in tragic crash in The Woodlands.” He didn’t even bother to explain the flawed logic from the CBS–DFW article, and simply said that Autopilot was engaged (which is at least two steps away from the truth). People will see his statement and say, “See, look at this authority figure! He says Autopilot was on!” So, this is a very irresponsible lie to be telling.

I’m all for hearing valid criticism of Tesla. Both the fans and the company benefit from good information, even if negative. Truth is important. That has to be the standard, and what these media figures and politician are doing ain’t it.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.



Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa


The Changing US EV Market — Podcast




Zach is tryin’ to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa

Continue Reading


Gossip, Carbon Emissions, & Electric Cars: Deliberate Disinformation Goes Viral




The internet has the ability to bring the brain power of all human beings together to devise ways of making our civilization better. In theory, it could be the way to force changes in government that would limit the power of tyrants.

In reality, the simple “like” button created by Mark Zuckerberg — without a similar “dislike” button — has created a monstrous perversion in which unfiltered gossip substitutes for wisdom, a development that has virtually destroyed our ability to engage in critical thinking. If concerted action to address an overheating planet fails to materialize, it will probably be because the idea didn’t get enough likes on Fakebook.

Recently, a Fakebook post appeared that showed two identical cars, one a diesel spewing a cloud of sooty smoke from its tailpipe and the other an electric car running on electricity generated by coal-fired facilities shooting clouds of sooty smoke into the air. The caption reads, “Manufacturing the battery for one electric car produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as running a petrol car for eight years.” As with everything on Fakebook, the source of that claim is not revealed. All that matters is that someone posted it and others “liked” it. And so now people are spreading that lie to their family and friends.

PolitiFact decided to delve into this claim a bit and decided it is “mostly false.” Why mostly? Because, as should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer, every manufacturing process creates carbon emissions, even making batteries and assembling cars. There are emissions associated with the production of steel, aluminum, copper, glass, and tires. There are even emissions associated with making that “vegan leather” that is so popular right now.

PolitiFact contacted Zeke Hausfather, director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute, for clarification about the claim that manufacturing a battery creates as many emissions as driving a gasoline powered car for 8 years. He responded by saying that producing a 75 kilowatt-hour battery for a Tesla Model 3 results in 4,500 kilograms of carbon dioxide if it is made at the Gigafactory in Nevada. That’s equivalent to driving a gasoline-powered sedan for 1.4 years at a yearly average distance of 12,000 miles.

If the same battery is made in Asia, manufacturing it would produce 7,500 kilograms of carbon dioxide, equivalent to driving a gasoline powered sedan for 2.4 years. That is nowhere near the 8 years claimed by that cartoon on Fakebook. The larger emission amount in Asia can be attributed to its “higher carbon electricity mix,” which relies more on coal for energy production than the electrical supply in Nevada.

“More than half the emissions associated with manufacturing the battery are associated with electricity use,” Hausfather said in an email to PolitiFact. “So, as the electricity grid decarbonizes, emissions associated with battery production will decline. The same is not true for sedan tailpipe emissions.”

PolitiFact notes that the Fakebook post does not mention the carbon emissions associated with the electricity used to build conventional cars. That post also omits the fact that the emissions created during battery manufacture are offset over a short period of time by zero tailpipe emissions during operation. There is no gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle on the face of the Earth that offsets any of the emissions associated with its manufacture.

Lying Liars & The Lies They Tell

Most of what PolitiFact found when it investigated the claims made by that Fakebook post will come as no surprise to CleanTechnica readers. But the pernicious effect of such lies cannot be downplayed. I recently had dinner with an educated man who has a Ph.D in economics. During our conversation, he asked about my LEAF and said he heard electric cars were not very clean because the electricity needed to charge them comes from burning coal. So this sort of deliberate disinformation gets around to people at all levels of society.

The corrosive effects of our internet culture are everywhere. I know people who believe that every person who got vaccinated against the coronavirus will be dead within 6 months. Critical thinking is in short supply these days and the lack of it is a clear and present danger to civilization. Ignorance can be cured with information. There is no cure for stupidity. If you agree, please like this story and share it with your friends!

Featured image courtesy of Volkswagen.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.



Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa

Continue Reading


The Transformation of Appalachian Coalfields Into Solar Farms Is Starting




Sun Tribe Development is taking on a unique opportunity to be the first to generate large-scale renewable power on the coalfields of Central Appalachia, Energy News Network reports. Described as a breakout moment for the region, the plan is to have up to 75 megawatts of solar power capacity across hundreds of acres of deforested mine lands in Virginia and Tennessee.

The writer interviewed Danny Van Clief, the CEO of Sun Tribe Development, and led with the fact that his choice in taking a career in solar energy was the freedom to jump with both feet into formidable challenges. One such challenge is transforming around 550 acres of deforested mine lands across the Nature Conservancy preserve into a large-scale solar farm within two to three years.

“If it were easy, everybody would be doing it,” Van Clief said to Energy News Network about plunging into untested territory. “I’m thrilled … to play a small part in the energy transition in Southwest Virginia.”

“This is a breakout moment for the region. There’s been a lot of talk about this but not as much action,” he added. Van Clief, who has been in the solar industry as an executive for 15 years, joined Sun Tribe in 2019, where he headed up its large-scale solar business. Since his time there, the company has completed 100 MW of utility-scale projects. So, it is just getting rolling.

The article noted that since the conservancy acquired the 253,000-acre Cumberland Forest property, which spans Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and Eastern Tennessee, it’s been wanting to do something with the land in terms of an energy transition. In total, there are an estimated 13,000 acres of former surface mines that scar the property.

The conservancy, which is focused on protecting land, waterways, and wildlife, has been wanting to use the Cumberland Forest as a potential showcase to prove that investments in nature could yield financial returns. Last year, the conservancy collaborated with the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy to determine the acreage on the property that would be accessible to utility lines and other infrastructure that is needed. Following that, the organization started seeking proposals from private solar developers.

Brad Kreps, director of the conservancy’s Clinch Valley Program in Abingdon, Virginia, shared some thoughts on this. “We can do things that are good for nature and people,” he said. “A mission of conservation and economic recovery can be compatible. These two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”

Sun Tribe was chosen as the developer after a 9-month review of a total of 15 applicants. Sol Systems, a Washington, D.C.-based company, will finance and operate the solar systems once they are built. Kreps also spoke of how excited the organization is about the project. “We’re super excited,” he said. ” This is kind of the next big milestone.”

“We’re trying to show how an area that has historically played a role in supplying energy can build on its past and create a diversified economy that still has an energy component.”

Sun Tribe is tasked with the fun job of working with county and state agencies to secure the paperwork and permits. The article noted that another hurdle is connecting with PJM, the independent regional transmission organization that manages the grid in Virginia and 12 other states. It also detailed that the half dozen parcels selected for solar range in size from 70–125 acres. Five of these are in Virginia and one is in Tennessee. Four of the Virginia sites are in Wise County and the other one is in Dickensen County. Also, several of the sites are in Appalachian Power territory, but Kentucky Utilities also serves a small part of the region under the name Old Dominion Power.

If this project comes to fruition, then it will impact the local quality of life in a positive manner, increase tax revenue, and provide long-lasting jobs that pay well.

Coal to Sunshine

Replacing coalfields with solar arrays is a beautiful renewable energy option that can empower those affected by coal. Well, those who are still living. EndCoal noted that in the U.S., coal kills around 13,000 people annually, and the figure is 23,300 in Europe. Coal is also responsible for over 800,000 premature deaths annually on a global scale. Following this are many millions more serious and minor illnesses.

I vaguely remember my Aunt Effie when I was really little. What I remember was her constant hacking, and I think she was on oxygen, too. I’m not certain, but I remember my mother talking about Aunt Effie having breathing difficulties. She told me this was due to her husband working in the coal mines. Her emphysema was caused by second-hand exposure to the dust.

So, replacing these scars on the conservancy with solar is akin to tattooing roses over scars on the body. Or tattooing something that reminds you of your value, worth, and reason for surviving. This is a beautiful project and, personally, I’m rooting for its success.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.



Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa

Continue Reading


“Lavish P.” Shows Us That Law Enforcement Isn’t Taking Autopilot Abuse Seriously




A couple days ago, a San Francisco man got himself arrested for driving around in a Tesla Model 3. Unlike most of us who would get pulled over for speeding (hey, it’s a fun car and it’s quick), Param Sharma got into trouble for turning on Autopilot and climbing into the back. The problem? He’s been doing this for months, had a run-in with law enforcement for this before, and started doing it again as soon as he got out of jail.

For those unfamiliar, Autopilot is only a driver-assist feature that most Tesla vehicles have. It maintains speed, stops for vehicles or objects in front of it (usually), and holds the car in the center of its lane. It’s not a perfect system, and isn’t safe to operate without constant driver attention. If it makes a mistake, you have to be ready to be able to take over quickly, so sitting in the back is quite dangerous (and illegal).

Before we get into what law enforcement is doing wrong here, let’s talk a bit about the Autopilot abuse we’ve been seeing from this guy in the past.

He Appears To Be Controversial Internet Personality “Lavish P.,” Who Has A History Of Doing This

A number of websites say he’s YouTube’s controversial “Lavish P.”, a man who likes to flaunt wealth on his YouTube channel. He’s known for referring to people who can’t afford luxury goods as “peasants,” and is proud of driving a Tesla without a driver. Subsequent media interviews (more on this below) make it pretty clear that he’s the same guy who made these videos:

He claims to own several 2021 Teslas, but claims that the Model 3 is the only one that gives him a good screen to look at while he abuses Autopilot and rides in the back. In this video and others, he’s always talking about how he’s better than the “Blue Collars” who do their own driving. He also claims that he once had a chauffeur who drove his Rolls Royce, but that the guy had gas and didn’t get along with him. “Computers don’t fart, bruh,” he said.

In another video, we see how he’s doing what he does. While he claims to have the Full Self Driving Beta (FSD Beta), the visualizations on his screen are not consistent with the FSD Beta’s. He has the driver’s seatbelt buckled without him in the seat, and he occasionally leans into the front to wiggle the steering wheel and prevent “nag” from stopping him.

Screenshot from one of the YouTube videos showing how he tricks Autopilot into working without a driver. Seatbelt is buckled, and he reaches up to deal with “nag”.

He Got A Citation (Without Arrest) For This In April

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) told the San Francisco Chronicle that they found him doing this in April. At the time, they gave him a ticket for illegally misusing the feature.

People who know Autopilot’s limitations know how dangerous this is, as it could not only kill the driver, but other people on or near the road. Autopilot isn’t inherently dangerous, of course, but it can make big mistakes at just the wrong time. If someone isn’t there to steer and take control of the pedals, disaster can strike. Most of us who are familiar with the system think it’s arrest-worthy on the first offense, like with this guy in Florida who sat on top of his car while a Cadillac feature kept the vehicle between the lines. [Editor’s note: As someone with the same version of Tesla Autopilot, I can’t imagine trying to pull such a stunt. It could end very badly very easily.]

That CHP decided to let the guy go with a ticket he could contest in court or just pay shows that they didn’t take this very seriously.

He Did It Again Immediately After Posting Bail, And Is Still Doing It

After getting out of jail, Sharma gave KTVU an interview, in which he expressed that he thought it was perfectly acceptable to abuse Autopilot like this.

He told the reporter that his next court date is July 6th, and that he plans to keep climbing into the back until at least then. He says he always drives a route in the front seat first to make sure it works well before riding in the back, and that he’s been “brake checked before really hard” without a collision, so therefore it must be safe to do what he does.

“Elon Musk really knows what he’s doing, and I think people are just tripping, and they’re scared of the future,” he said, before vowing to never stop abusing the feature. “I paid ten thousand for the Full Self Driving Feature, and it does what it’s designed to do….”

He didn’t stop there, though. The next day, he showed off his “self driving” Tesla for KTVU. He claims that he bought a brand new one to replace the one that was stuck in impound, but note that the Model 3 doesn’t have temp tags.

So, he’s not only continuing to do this, but he’s doing it on TV, and nobody is stopping him.

Law Enforcement Isn’t Taking This As Seriously As They Should

If I took a walk in San Francisco with my rifle, even safely slung from my shoulder and not pointed at anybody, you can bet that within minutes I’d face a swarm of law enforcement officers who would quickly arrest me, and I’d be lucky to not get shot by them. California and San Francisco take this perceived danger to the public extremely seriously — in fact, so seriously that they’d even arrest me for possessing it in an apartment (assuming I rented one there — I don’t). Mere possession of an unloaded “assault weapon,” even secured in a gun safe, is intolerable to California authorities, because I could hypothetically hurt people with it. It’s that big of a deal to them because they don’t want people getting killed.

But when Param Sharma did something far more dangerous, the automotive equivalent to pointing a loaded gun at strangers on the street, he got a citation for the first offense. For the second offense, he got arrested, but got out within hours. Now, he continues to do it, even on television, and he’s still a free man. He could be doing it right now, with no further consequences.

I’m not trying to beat up California for their harsh gun laws here. I get it. Guns frighten people and some people really do misuse them, so it’s not a completely unfounded fear people have. There’s at least some logic in play there. I just wanted to illustrate what it looks like when they take an issue seriously, so we can compare it to this situation.

What completely and totally baffles my mind here is that they’d be so easygoing when a person presents a much greater threat to public safety. One Autopilot or camera malfunction, and he could kill dozens of people on the freeway. He could end up sending 4,000 pounds of steel, aluminum, and batteries through some kids’ bedrooms before he could climb back up front. One small computer error and he could run down dozens of pedestrians before he even has a chance to react.

We know that the software isn’t ready to run without human supervision, and that it will eventually surprise him with a malfunction. It really is more dangerous than someone randomly firing a gun in the city would be, and he’s out on bail continuing to do it and brag about it on TV.

Does that seem right to you?

It makes ZERO sense for safety advocates and public officials to engage in hand-wringing about the safety of Autopilot, and try to blame Tesla for this, when authorities seem almost completely unwilling to punish the people who willfully abuse the product and endanger the public with it. If this continues, expect dozens or hundreds of other people to do this because they think they can get away with it like Sharma does.

When that happens, it won’t be Tesla’s fault. It will lay squarely at the feet of a broken criminal justice system with its priorities completely out of whack.

Featured image: screenshot from the “Lavish P.” YouTube Channel.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.



Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa

Continue Reading
Aviation5 days ago

JetBlue Hits Back At Eastern Airlines On Ecuador Flights

Blockchain5 days ago

“Privacy is a ‘Privilege’ that Users Ought to Cherish”: Elena Nadoliksi

AI2 days ago

Build a cognitive search and a health knowledge graph using AWS AI services

Blockchain2 days ago

Meme Coins Craze Attracting Money Behind Fall of Bitcoin

Blockchain20 hours ago

Shiba Inu: Know How to Buy the New Dogecoin Rival

Energy3 days ago

ONE Gas to Participate in American Gas Association Financial Forum

SaaS5 days ago

Blockchain4 days ago

Yieldly announces IDO

Fintech3 days ago

Credit Karma Launches Instant Karma Rewards

Blockchain5 days ago

Opimas estimates that over US$190 billion worth of Bitcoin is currently at risk due to subpar safekeeping

SaaS5 days ago

Esports3 days ago

Pokémon Go Special Weekend announced, features global partners like Verizon, 7-Eleven Mexico, and Yoshinoya

Blockchain2 days ago

Sentiment Flippening: Why This Bitcoin Expert Doesn’t Own Ethereum

Esports2 days ago

Valve launches Supporters Clubs, allows fans to directly support Dota Pro Circuit teams

Business Insider3 days ago

Bella Aurora launches its first treatment for white patches on the skin

SaaS5 days ago

Esports4 days ago

5 Best Mid Laners in League of Legends Patch 11.10

Cyber Security4 days ago

Top Tips On Why And How To Get A Cyber Security Degree ?

Esports1 day ago

‘Destroy Sandcastles’ in Fortnite Locations Explained

Esports3 days ago

How to download PUBG Mobile’s patch 1.4 update