Thursday, 02 April, 2020


Tesla Autopilot and driver complacency blamed for fatal Model X crash

This Model X crash reveals the short comings of Autopilot and potentially other similarly named advanced driver assistance systems This Model X crash reveals the short comings of Autopilot and potentially other similarly named advanced driver assistance systems
Melba Vasquez | 27 February, 2020, 10:31

NHTSA has "taken a nonregulatory approach to automated vehicle safety" and should "complete a further evaluation of the Tesla Autopilot system to ensure the deployed technology does not pose an unreasonable safety risk", NTSB said. It doesn't amount to self-driving and the company instructs drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and pay attention to the roadway.

The safety board is expected to issue recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tesla and a California transportation agency, the sources said.

The roof of the Tesla Model X was sheared off and its 50-year-old driver was killed when the vehicle drove under the trailer of a semi truck that was crossing its path in March 2019.

The NTSB commenced an investigation in 2018 shortly after the crash, with Tesla refuting claims that its semi-autonomous driver-assist technology had not done enough to alert Mr Huang.

Also on Tuesday, the NTSB said California's lack of maintenance of the median contributed to the severity of the crash, saying Mr. Huang would likely have survived otherwise. Their lawyer told the NTSB that Mr. Huang had complained to his family that Autopilot was acting up in the section of highway where his auto veered into a center divider.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt criticized Apple for not having a policy in place that prevents employees from using smartphones while driving. One, with Autopilot in control, the Model X drove straight down the middle of a "gore lane", a white striped zone where cars aren't supposed to go, crashing head on into a flexible steel "smart cushion" that's meant to soften the impact of a crash.

"It's been 881 days since these recommendations were sent to Tesla".

Tesla has yet to respond to the findings and surprisingly founder and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk also didn't comment on Twitter, instead posting multiple pictures of ice cream.

The driver of the Tesla involved in this March crash in Utah suffered a broken foot and other injuries
The driver of the Tesla involved in this March crash in Utah suffered a broken foot and other injuries

"Distraction-affected crashes are a major concern, including those involving advanced driver assistance features", the statement said. "Sadly, one manufacturer has ignored us, and that manufacturer is Tesla", Sumwalt said Tuesday.

After developing the performance standards for driver monitoring systems recommended in Safety Recommendation H-20-X, require that all new passenger vehicles with Level 2 automation be equipped with a driver monitoring system that meets these standards.

Federal investigators found that a man who died in a Tesla crash was playing a video game at the time of the accident. NTSB was also checking the battery fire that followed the crash.

The NTSB only has the authority to make recommendations, but can't oversee if they are implemented.

The nation's two safety agencies have been at odds when it comes to Autopilot since the first crash in 2016 that involved the technology.

Into this mix the NSTB has produced a stinging indictment of both NHTSA and Tesla.

While we may never fully know what happened, the NTSB noted the driver was an "avid gamer and game developer" and records showed a game was active on their iPhone 8 Plus. The system was also blamed for having no restrictions on where it can be activated by the driver, despite having known limitations, along with an inability to detect the crash attenuator.

Caltrans spokesman Matt Rocco said on Monday the agency "is implementing several steps to enhance monitoring and tracking of the fix of damage to highway infrastructure".

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