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Driver Automation to Be Scrutinized in NTSB Probe of Tesla Crash

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Ore Adeyinka1 year ago

After years of US investigators pressing for more automation in motor vehicles, such as sensors that slam on the brakes to prevent a crash, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is due to open an investigation into a fatal accident involving a Tesla Motors Inc. sedan. In this incident, the Autopilot feature was enabled.

About the Investigation

According to Bloomberg Technology News, agency spokesman Christopher O’ Neil announced that The Safety Board will be sending a team of five investigators to Florida next week. Although the U.S. National Safety Administration is conducting its own review of the incident that occurred on May 7, the NTSB wants to delve and take a comprehensive look at whether the driverless car technology reveals any systemic issues.
The investigation is underway after a 40-year-old man from Ohio died when his 2015 Tesla Model S struck an 18-wheeler on a highway near Williston, Florida according to a statement made by Florida Highway Patrol.

Additional Information about the Accident

The Autopilot is known as a semi-autonomous feature that can guide a vehicle in certain conditions. According to Tesla, the feature failed to notice the white side of the tractor-trailer as it turned in front of the car against the brightly lit sky and therefore the break was not applied. It has been said that the system may have confused the truck with an overhead highway sign. Bloomberg Technology News reports that this is the first crash with a known fatality in more than 130 million miles of Autopilot driving.
The Tesla crash investigation is particularly significant as Tesla rarely open investigations into highway accidents. Since 2014, Tesla has installed the software for the Autopilot feature on all 70,000 of its cars since October 2014, although it is still a beta version. Tesla have publicly stated in a June 30 blog post that vehicle owners should acknowledge that the system is a form of new technology which is “still in a public beta phase” before it is switched on.
Tesla also reminds customers that they have done their part by educating customers about the use of the feature and therefore customers are “responsible for remaining alert and present when using Autopilot and must be prepared to take control at all times.”


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