Another Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash and More Car News This Week

German startup Lilium said its would-be air taxi of the future made its first flight on May 4.Lilium
In March, on a Florida highway, the 50-year-old driver of a Tesla Model 3 turned on his car’s Autopilot feature and then took his hands off the wheel for eight seconds, according to an NTSB report released this week . Moments later, his car collided with a semitrailer. The driver died, and now Autopilot faces new scrutiny. That’s the worst kind of collision.Other sorts are also bad, even if they don’t kill you. Just a few weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control reported that the majority of scooter-share riders who ended up in Austin hospitals during a study period last fall were first-time riders —and that the majority had hurt their heads. This week, our Gear team wonders: Is this an argument for buying your own scooter ?Others are more metaphorical. This spring, Uber, Lyft, and other companies that are now in the scooter-share businesses have been engaged in a quiet struggle with the city of Los Angeles over scooter data and privacy . The conflict might end up shaping how local governments think about data, we wrote this week.

Fun things happened this week, too: Big promises about electric vehicles , and about flying taxis . Let’s get you caught up.


Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
  • The National Transportation Safety Board says a Tesla Model 3’s Autopilot feature was engaged when it crashed into a semitrailer on a Florida highway in March, killing its driver—an incident eerily similar to another Florida incident three years ago.
  • The “Lilium Jet”—a five-seat, 36-motor “flying taxi” that its makers say can hit 186 miles per hour—takes its first test flight .
  • VW takes its battery operations in house , promising to spend $1.12 billion on a battery production plan near its German headquarters to support its electric vehicle plans.
  • Also in Germans making promises: Daimler says EVs will account for more than half of its car sales by 2030, though didn’t offer many details.
  • Why a weird local fight about scooter data just might determine how cities handle your private information—and why ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft are getting in the action.
  • Is it time to buy your own electric scooter ?

Baby Name of the Week

A US Census Bureau data release reveals that 109 very interesting parents named their children “Tesla” in 2018. Hot tip, adults: Don’t show your little ones the latest stock price. Other top car names: Audi (18 kiddos), Lexus (40 kiddos), and Chevy (176 kiddos).

Stat of the Week


The number of McLarens that now exist in the world, according to the British car company. The 20,000th beauty off the assembly line? A right-hand drive 600LT Spider in Chicane Grey.

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet

  • Elon Musk tells Tesla employees that the company is getting very, very serious about cost cutting. Quoth he: “I will personally review and sign every 10th page [of expenses].”
  • Tesla pushes an over-the-air update battery software update after two high-profile fires.

  • The National Labor Relations Board says in a memo that Uber drivers are contractors, not employees—with big implications for ongoing unionization fights.
  • Is China losing the race to build autonomous vehicles?
  • How self-driving car companies can fake a convincing demo video.

  • Why you might want to be skeptical about that Daimler promise to sell lots of electric vehicles.
  • Uber chatted with self-driving delivery robot company Nuro.

In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canon

Read our 2017 coverage of the last high-profile NTSB investigation into Tesla Autopilot , which determined the electric car company bore some blame for a 2016 death.
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