Driver, Tesla Autopilot both came up short in fatal crash report finds

By David Shepardson

By David Shepardson

The people confirmed that the system is expected be labeled a contributing factor in the crash because it allowed drivers to avoid steering or watching the road for lengthy periods.

The NTSB announced today that "operational limitations" in Tesla's Autopilot technology played a major role in a May 2016 crash that left the driver, Joshua Brown, dead. The NTSB suggested to any maker of semi-autonomous vehicles to prevent the use of the technology on roads where the vehicles aren't suited to travel without human control of the vehicle. In spite of those warnings, the car's software allowed drivers to go as fast as 90 miles an hour under automated steering, the NTSB found. "But it was created to perform limited tasks in a limited range of environments".

"And the system gave too much leeway to the driver to divert his attention to something other than driving".

Autopilot had been engaged for 37 of the 41 total minutes of the trip-before the system and Brown failed to detect a semi truck crossing in front of the auto and collided with the truck's trailer. It also concluded that the automation contributed because it permitted Brown's "prolonged disengagement from the driving task".

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According to commentators, the recommendations and findings of the safety board could have implications for AV systems on vehicles and trucks, and it comes as Congress is debating legislation to spur development of autonomous vehicle systems. The board cannot issue recalls or force regulatory changes, but it can make recommendations.

In response to the report, Tesla said Autopilot "significantly increases safety", citing a January finding by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the system's lane-centering steering feature reduces accident rates by 40 percent.

"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", the spokesperson said.

The company said it would "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".

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NTSB's Chairman Robert Sumwalt III, was quoted in the report press summary by NTSB as saying, "System safeguards, that should have prevented the Tesla's driver from using the car's automation system on certain roadways, were lacking and the combined effects of human error and the lack of sufficient system safeguards resulted in a fatal collision that should not have happened". Sumwalt read from portions of the company's manual that offered contradictory instructions on how to use automation.

Brown's family questioned in a statement released Monday whether Brown could have had his hands off the wheel for an extended time since the Model S is supposed to automatically slow down and pull over to the side of the road under those circumstances.

The driver had Autopilot engaged for 37 of the 41 total minutes of the trip.

The board said the direct cause of the crash was an inattentive Tesla driver's over reliance on technology and a truck driver who made a left-hand turn in front of the auto.

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"We heard numerous times that the vehicle killed our son". "Nobody wants tragedy to touch their family, but expecting to identify all limitations of an emerging technology and expecting perfection is not feasible either", the statement said.

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