NTSB: Tesla Autopilot was engaged before fatal Florida crash

18 May, 2019, 04:03 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Location of Telsa crash

Tesla last month introduced a new generation of Full Self-Driving hardware, and reiterated that its neural network and image processing can identify road hazards better than lidar.

In a 2017 report on the Gainesville crash, the NTSB wrote that design limitations of Autopilot played a major role.

After a preliminary investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded Autopilot, Tesla's semi-autonomous driving technology, was engaged at the time of the fatal crash. The vehicle was traveling around 68 miles per hour at the time, 13 miles per hour above the speed limit in the area.

The NTSB said its investigation is ongoing.

Tesla said in a statement that after the driver engaged the system he "immediately removed his hands from the wheel". "Neither the preliminary data nor the videos indicate that the driver or the ADAS [advanced driver assistance system] executed evasive maneuvers", stated the NTSB.

In that crash, the driver of a 2015 Tesla Model S collided with the trailer of a semi that had swung wide to the right lane to make a left-hand turn.

Neither Brown nor the vehicle braked for a tractor-trailer, which had turned left in front of the Tesla and was crossing its path.

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Federal investigators have determined that a Tesla driver who was involved in a fatal auto accident had the vehicle operating on its semi-autonomous Autopilot system.

The crash, which is now under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), raises questions about the effectiveness of Tesla's Autopilot feature, which uses cameras, long-range radar and computers to detect objects in front of the cars to avoid collisions.

In May 2016, a Tesla Model S driver was killed near Williston, Florida, while Autopilot was engaged, when he slammed into a tractor trailer that also sheared off the vehicle roof.

Among seven recommendations it made from the investigation was that "Tesla's automated vehicle control system was not created to, and could not, identify the truck crossing the Tesla's path or recognize the impending crash". Enhancements to the radar used as part of the company's driver-assistance system likely would have detected the semi trailer, he said at the time. A research paper released earlier this year by MIT scientists studying Tesla's driving-assistance system found that in the context of "tricky situations" - scenarios that may lead to property damage, injury or death - drivers disengaged Autopilot on average every 9.2 miles. In April, his family filed a lawsuit against Tesla in a California state court, alleging negligence on the part of the electric vehicle maker.

The NTSB's preliminary report said the driver engaged Autopilot about 10 seconds before crashing into a semitrailer, and the system did not detect the driver's hands on the wheel for fewer than eight seconds before the crash.

In response to the NTSB preliminary findings, a Tesla spokesperson in an email Thursday said, "We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy". "For the past three quarters we have released quarterly safety data directly from our vehicles which demonstrates that".

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