The Apple Pips

Tesla on Autopilot accelerated into fire truck at 60mph but at least the driver only broke his ankle

Earlier this month, a Tesla in Utah crashed into a stopped fire truck at 60mph. The story got plenty of attention from the media, which prompted billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk to have a meltdown on Twitter about biased reporting.

Today, the Associated Press obtained document on the Utah crash from local police which appear to show that the vehicle was under the control of Autopilot at the time, and accelerated for a few seconds before the crash. The driver hit the brakes manually a moment before the impact.

Data from the Model S electric vehicle show it picked up speed for 3.5 seconds shortly before crashing into a stopped firetruck in suburban Salt Lake City, the report said. The driver manually hit the brakes a fraction of a second before impact.

Police suggested that the car was following another vehicle and dropped its speed to 55 mph to match the leading vehicle. They say the leading vehicle then likely changed lanes and the Tesla automatically sped up to its preset of 60 mph (97 kph) without noticing the stopped cars ahead of it.

Musk’s tweets after news of the accident first emerged took aim at the fact that when other cars crash, they don’t get the same kind of attention from the media:

To an extent, he has a point. Humans are extraordinarily bad at driving, and a few crashed Teslas doesn’t mean that the technology is less safe than human-piloted cars. But the notion that because something is better than what came before it, it doesn’t get to be scrutinized is clearly false. More houses burned down before asbestos was a thing, but would minor lung issues due to asbestos be the kind of story that newspapers shouldn’t have covered in the 1930s? Lead pipes brought clean water to tens of millions of households, driving a new wave of sanitary living conditions that enabled urbanization, but the adverse side effects are still worth studying.

Tesla, by absolute choice and in no part because of Musk’s never-ending PR tour, is one of the front-runners in deploying driver assistant technologies to cars. Everything from the name — Autopilot — to the promo videos of hands-free driving gives the impression that less attention is needed to drive a Tesla than a regular vehicle. News stories about a new technology failing in a sometimes-fatal way aren’t intended to say that all driver-assist technologies are bad and should be banned; they just raise awareness of the side-effects of trusting one particular new technology (Autopilot) too much, and occasionally raise the question of whether there’s a slower but safer method of rolling out these new technologies to the public.

If Musk is really invested in persuading people that his cars are safer, Tesla should release far more data on Autopilot’s safety record. There’s currently one public statistic about the safety of Tesla vehicles before and after Autopilot, and the NTSB, which first released the number, has since said that it’s flawed, at best.

Human drivers are bad. Anyone who has tried to drive in the left lane of the I-95 can tell you that, and the fact that people die in car crashes due to human error on a daily basis isn’t news any more. Reporting on the failure of a new technology doesn’t imply that the new technology is worse than the status quo; it simply makes people aware of the problems of adopting new technologies before they’re fully ready for the mainstream.

New Winnie the Pooh trailer, and 12 others you missed this week

Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters worldwide today and… would you look at that, we’ve got over a dozen trailers for new attractions for you this weekend, and none of them is a Star Wars or superhero movie.

That’s not to say Solo is a bad movie, but I find myself surprisingly uninterested in seeing it now that it’s finally out. That was not the case with Rogue One less than two years ago when it came out. Oh well, on to the trailers!

A Simple Favor

Anna Kendrick and Black Lively star in A Simple Favor, which is definitely not the romantic comedy you’d expect these two to star in. The thriller launches on September 14th, and we have a new teaser trailer for you.

City of Lies

Speaking of crime stories, City of Lies is the adaptation of the real-life events that followed the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG. Johnny Depp and Forest Whitaker star in this one, and you’ll see it in a theater near you come September 7th.

Christopher Robin

Winnie the Pooh is coming back, but not in the way you think. Christopher Robin is the name of Disney’s new Pooh movie, which focuses on an older Christopher Robin who’s about to embark on a brand new adventure. You know, the kind of experience where you’re not a kid anymore but have your own kids instead. Pooh and gang, meanwhile, are unchanged, and that’s not necessarily a good thing? Here’s the brand new international trailer:


Let’s switch gears for a moment, to watch the first trailer for Damsel, a western with traces of comedy and drama in it. Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska play Samuel and Penelope, who’re supposed to be getting married soon.

Down A Dark Hall

Down A Dark Hall is the kind of movie title that makes you think you’re about to watch a drama at best. At worst, it’s a horror movie. In this case, it’s the latter, as we’ve got freaky people with spooky powers to deal with. Definitely on the horror side of things. The movie launches on August 17th.

Hotel Artemis

One of the movies I’m looking forward to seeing this summer, Hotel Artemis tells the story about the kind of establishment we saw in John Wick. You know, the sort of hotel/safe heaven certain high-end criminals get access to. And it doesn’t hurt that Hotel Artemis just happens to have an incredible cast.


Don’t even dare to tell me we have too many Jungle Book movies. No, what we’ve got too many of are Spider-Man flicks. Mowgli hits cinemas on October 19th, with Andy Serkis both directing and voicing via motion capture Baloo. Rohan Chand is Mowgli, while Benedict Cumberbatch voices Shere Khan.


Papillon is a remake of an old story about a man who ends up being detained on an island, where he plots his escape. Charlie Hunnam plays Papillon, and Rami Malek plays Louis Dega. The film hits theaters on August 24th.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Coming out on June 29th, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is the sequel of the original action drama — that’s a movie you absolutely have to watch if you haven’t seen it already. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are back, but Emily Blunt, sadly, isn’t. Here’s what you can expect from the next chapter in the Sicario franchise:

Shock and Awe

Also a film about weapons and wars, Shock and Awe is actually based on historical events from the George Bush’s days. A group of journalists are skeptical that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction ahead of Bush’s planned invasion of the country. It’s got a fantastic cast, and it’s hitting theaters real soon:


Also on July 13th, Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper action movie comes out, and I already know which of these two movies I’d rather watch in a theater. Hint, it’s not the one where a giant skyscraper is held hostage.

The Sisters Brothers

Our second western of the day is a little more serious than the first. The Sisters Brothers — you’ve got to give it to them, this is a cool title — is about finding gold and assassins looking to kill gold diggers.


Upgrade debuts next week, and it’s a movie that will make you look at technology a whole lot different. The movie is set in our near future, where tech has become so advanced that it can be used to upgrade humans. You’ll see exactly what I mean below: