from the tragic-events dept.
Federal investigators announced Tuesday that the design of Tesla's semiautonomous driving system allowed the driver of a Tesla Model S in a fatal 2016 crash with a semi-truck to rely too heavily on the car's automation.
"Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed," said National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt. "The system gave far too much leeway to the driver to divert his attention."
The board's report declares the primary probable cause of the collision as the truck driver's failure to yield, as well as the Tesla driver's overreliance on his car's automation — or Autopilot, as Tesla calls the system. Tesla's system design was declared a contributing factor.
[...] A Tesla spokesperson provided a statement to ABC News that read, "We appreciate the NTSB's analysis of last year's tragic accident, and we will evaluate their recommendations as we continue to evolve our technology. We will also continue to be extremely clear with current and potential customers that Autopilot is not a fully self-driving technology and drivers need to remain attentive at all times."
According to The Associated Press, members of Brown's family said on Monday that they do not blame the car or the Autopilot system for his death.
El Reg reports
[January 23] a Tesla Model S slammed into a stationary firetruck at around 65mph on Interstate 405 in Culver City, California. The car was driven under the fire engine, although the driver was able to walk away from the crash uninjured and refused an offer of medical treatment.
The motorist claimed the Model S was driving with Autopilot enabled when it crammed itself under the truck. Autopilot is Tesla's super-cruise-control system. It's not a fully autonomous driving system.
[...] The fire truck was parked in the carshare lane of the road with its lights flashing. None of the fire crew were hurt, although Powell noted that if his team had been in their usual position at the back of the truck then there "probably would not have been a very good outcome."
Tesla will no doubt be going over the car's computer logs to determine exactly what happened, something the California Highway Patrol will also be interested in. If this was a case of the driver sticking on Autopilot, and forgetting their responsibility to watch the road ahead it wouldn't be the first time.
In 2016, a driver was killed after both he and the Tesla systems missed a lorry pulling across the highway. A subsequent investigation by the US National Transportation Safety Board found the driver was speeding and had been warned by the car six times to keep his hands on the wheel.
Tesla has since beefed up the alerts the car will give a driver if it feels they aren't paying full attention to the road. The safety board did note in its report that the introduction of Tesla's Autosteer software had cut collisions by 40 per cent.