The ugly side of technology: Tesla app outage locked owners out of their cars


Tesla Inc, the Elon Musk-owned electric vehicle company that is known for making some of the most technologically advanced cars in the world have been facing wraith of its very own advanced technology of late. After a series of autopilot crashes, now a worldwide outage has left Tesla users locked out of their vehicles. Tesla’s app server went down this week, leading to a worldwide app outage that left owners unable to connect to their cars. For those who have been mostly dependent on their phones instead of their keycards, that means being locked out of their vehicles.

Electrek first reported the issue after receiving complaints from Tesla owners on Friday night, and for a while, it seemed like the problem only affected drivers in North America. But then, an owner from Seoul, South Korea tweeted at Musk about getting a server error on their app, to which the Tesla CEO replied that he is “checking” it out. Other tweets show owners calling for roadside assistance and delaying their plans for the night.

The outage came shortly after the automaker rolled out an update to its application, which Electrek said includes a feature that Tesla had issues implementing. Being locked out of vehicles could be an ongoing problem as automakers move to cloud services and increase reliance on smartphone apps, the report said.

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As for the autopilot crashes involving Tesla’s famed autonomous driving technology, multiple incidents have forced NTSB to open a formal investigation in this matters. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced the findings in an investigative report update on the April 17 crash on a residential road in Spring, Texas killing two men, neither of whom was found in the driver’s seat.

Although first responders found one man in the back seat and the other in the front passenger seat, the NTSB said both the driver and a passenger were in the front seats with belts buckled at the time of the crash.

The agency said the car was traveling up to 67 mph in the five seconds leading up to the crash, and the driver was accelerating. Data from the car’s fire-damaged event data recorder revealed that at times, the accelerator pedal was pressed as high as 98.8%, the NTSB report said.

The investigation is continuing, and the agency made no determination as to whether Tesla’s Autopilot partially automated driver-assist system was running at the time of the crash. The NTSB said it is still looking into Autopilot, whether the men could have had trouble getting out of the car, driver toxicology tests and other items. The agency will make those determinations in a final report.

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