Tesla’s Autopilot Alerted Driver to Retake Wheel Seven Times Prior to Fatal Crash
TheÂ National Transportation Safety Board has finally concluded its investigation into aÂ May 2016 crash in Florida that resulted in the death ofÂ 40-year-old Joshua Brown. The ex-Navy SEAL’s Tesla Model S was operating in Autopilot mode when itÂ collided with a semi trailer, raising speculation that the semi-autonomous driving feature was the reason for the accident.
While Tesla has repeatedly called the system a lane-keeping “assist feature” and suggested drivers always keep their hands on the wheel, consumer safety groups have urged the automaker to improve it.
An earlier investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated in January that the Autopilot software in Brownâ€™s car did not have any safety defects. However, the NTSB stated that data acquired from the vehicle’s computer indicated that neither the vehicle nor its operator made any attempt to avoid the truck. It also specified that the vehicle had issued seven warnings for Brown to retake the wheel.
In the 37 minutes leading up to the fatal crash, the report saidÂ the car detected hands on the steering wheel for a total of 25 seconds.
Brownâ€™s car was traveling at roughly 74 miles an hour when it struck the side of a trailer that was crossing the highway. The Autopilot seeminglyÂ failed to distinguish between the white truck and the bright sky behind it. But witnesses to the accident indicated the driver should have seen it coming and had ample time to brake.
This might be a good time to once again remind drivers that there is no such thing as a fully autonomous production car yet. Adaptive cruise control allows a vehicle to maintain a pace relative to traffic in front of the car. Auto-steer holds the vehicle in its lane. Neither system is foolproof and both require you to remain alert and ready to take over in an instant.
With that in mind, theÂ NTSB and NHTSA findings exonerate Tesla from any wrongdoing. As tragic as it is that Brown’s life ended because he trusted his vehicle so unconditionally, he appears to be the one most responsible for the incident. However, the Florida Highway Patrol had stated earlier that the truck driver had been issued a citation for a right of way traffic violation.
Earlier claims from the truck driver suggested Brown had been watching a DVD at the time of the accident, but no evidence has arisen to bolster those assertions. The NTSB stated that it had recovered numerous electronic devices, including a laptop, from the wrecked Tesla but did not have sufficient proofÂ to indicate they were in use at the time of the crash.Â A lawyer representing Brown’s family told Reuters that any suggestions to the contrary were “unequivocally false.”
Brown was a major advocate of the Tesla brand and frequently posted videos praising its Autopilot function. After the accident Tesla issued a statement calling him “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Teslaâ€™s mission,” before offering sympathies to his family.
In the months following the crash,Â Tesla released a revised Autopilot system as part of its Hardware 2.0 update. Statements from late 2016 made by CEO Elon Musk seemed to suggest some of the changes made may have prevented theÂ fatal accident.
The Brown family has not taken any legal action against Tesla and is still reviewing the NTSB report.
via The Truth About Cars http://ift.tt/Jh8LjA
June 21, 2017 at 04:03PM
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