Tuesday, 17 July, 2018


Consumer group urges Musk to fix driver assist system

Conrad Doyle | 12 June, 2018, 22:13

Tesla's cars will in August suddenly activate "full self-driving features", the company's chief executive Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday, three days after federal investigators said a Tesla SUV driving semi-autonomously had accelerated over 70 miles per hour and smashed into a highway barrier.

'The focus isn't Tesla's technology, ' he said. But safety experts anxious the grand promises of full self-driving capabilities could lull drivers into a false sense of security for technologies that are still largely unproven on the road.

Seven seconds before impact, the Tesla began "a left steering movement", meaning it veered to the left. Tesla's "misleading" marketing, he said, has had the risky effect of "providing overconfidence and building you up to thinking it's safer than it actually is".

Huang's family lawyer, Mark Fong, asserts "there was a failure of both the Tesla Autopilot and the automatic braking systems of the vehicle".

According to the Associated Press, Tesla says its vehicles and systems are not to blame; the drivers are. Federal agencies are investigating two other crashes in which Teslas ran into stopped fire department vehicles.

Tesla shares closed higher Friday ahead of a report from The Consumer Group urging the electric auto maker to fix the flaws in its driver assist system to try and avoid further accidents similar to the fatal crash in California in March this year.

The NTSB report also indicates that not only did the driver not have his hands on the steering wheel in the final six seconds before impact, but there was "no precrash braking or evasive steering movement detected".

On Tesla's website, it describes upcoming features - including the ability for a vehicle to change lanes without driver input, move from one freeway to another, and exit a freeway near the driver's destination - that are not available in Autopilot's current iteration.

Since January, two Tesla vehicles whose drivers were using its Autopilot system have struck the backs of stopped fire trucks, and another Tesla crashed into a roadside barrier, killing its driver.

A Tesla super charger is shown at one of the company's charging stations in San Juan Capistrano, California, US, May 30, 2018.

Missy Cummings, the director of Duke University's Humans and Autonomy Lab, said Musk's self-driving statement was an "attempt to generate hype" and that his assertion of a focus on safety was "laughable".

The NTSB previously faulted Tesla in a 2016 fatal crash in Florida in which Autopilot was engaged, saying: "Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed and the system gave far too much leeway to the driver to divert his attention". "And, as pointed out by NTSB, it still failed to prevent (Huang's) death, and indeed likely caused it".

At 4 seconds, the Model X no longer was following that lead vehicle.

Federal investigators found that Autopilot was on and had been used multiple times before the crash.

But Tesla has shared little about how it has tested these features, Friedman said, adding that the treating of self-driving capabilities as easy software updates could have deadly results.

"We can't treat cars like we do phones or computers", he said.

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