Wednesday, 03 March, 2021

Tesla Autopilot crash driver ‘was playing video game’

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Picture caption

The driver of the Tesla Design X died shortly right after the crash

An Apple personnel who died following his Tesla car hit a concrete barrier was taking part in a movie video game at the time of the crash, investigators feel.

The US Countrywide Transportation Basic safety Board (NTSB) explained the vehicle had been driving semi-autonomously utilizing Tesla’s Autopilot software program.

Tesla instructs drivers to keep their palms on the wheel in Autopilot method.

But the NTSB explained much more crashes had been foreseeable if Tesla did not apply improvements to its Autopilot process.

The authority has published the success of a two-calendar year investigation, subsequent the crash in March 2018.

Tesla’s Autopilot software steered the car into the triangular “gore spot” at a motorway intersection, and accelerated into a concrete barrier.

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The Tesla entered the gore location from Freeway 101 and hit the barrier

The entrance of the Tesla separated from the rear, triggering two other motorists to crash.

The Tesla driver, 38-calendar year-outdated Walter Huang, was taken to clinic but died of his injuries. The other drivers survived.

The NTSB stated:

  • The Tesla driver experienced not taken regulate of the car mainly because he experienced been distracted by a smartphone video sport
  • The Tesla’s collision avoidance system was “not developed to detect the crash [barrier]”
  • Tesla’s Autopilot process did not “supply an efficient implies of monitoring the driver’s engagement”

The use of Tesla’s Autopilot software program has been implicated in numerous crashes.

The method allows the car function semi-autonomously, transforming lanes and adjusting its velocity.

But critics say the “Autopilot” branding tends to make some drivers think the car or truck is driving entirely autonomously.

The NTSB said the driver experienced been “above-reliant” on the program.

Tesla does instruct motorists to keep their fingers on the wheel when utilizing Autopilot, and an audible warning seems if they fail to do so.

But the NTSB claimed “checking of driver-utilized steering wheel torque is an ineffective surrogate evaluate of driver engagement”.

“If Tesla does not integrate technique safeguards that limit the use of the Autopilot technique to individuals disorders for which it was built, continued use of the procedure past its operational style area is foreseeable and the risk for foreseeable future crashes will continue to be,” it claimed.


The NTSB finished its report with numerous suggestions which includes:

  • bettering collision avoidance programs to consist of prevalent obstructions these types of as site visitors boundaries
  • assessing Tesla’s Autopilot to determine whether the skill to work it “outside the supposed operational style” posed an unreasonable threat to basic safety
  • avoiding automation complacency in drivers
  • demanding all new passenger automobiles with semi-autonomous options to be outfitted with a driver monitoring system that satisfies new standards

It also advised smartphone brands need to produce a “distracted driving lockout mechanism” to “disable any driver-distracting features when a automobile is in motion but that allows the unit to be utilised in an emergency”.

And it urged Apple to “put into practice a organization policy that bans the non-unexpected emergency use of moveable electronic equipment when driving by all staff members and contractors”.

The NTSB also identified a effects-absorbing crash barrier strike by the Tesla had been “in a ruined and non-operational problem at the time of the collision”.

It mentioned the California Highway Patrol experienced unsuccessful to report hurt adhering to a previous crash and it was “very likely” the Tesla driver would have survived the crash if the barrier had been changed.

BBC News has contacted Tesla for its reaction.

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