Autopilot autonomous-driving system in the wake of a fatal crash. The agency said the May crash involved a 2015 Tesla Model S driving with the system engaged.
Updated on 7-2-2016 By Alex Kalogiannis: Added quotes from a liability expert, past statements made by Elon Musk, and info on the DVD player discovered at the scene.
The incident "calls for an examination of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash," the NHTSA told CNBC . Depending on what it finds, the agency could order a recall of the roughly 25,000 Tesla Model S and Model X electric cars equipped with Autopilot. The system, which allows cars to autonomously follow traffic, brake, and make lane changes, was launched as a public beta in August .
In a blog post published Thursday, Tesla said this was the "first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated." The company noted that among all vehicles in the U.S., there is fatality every 94 million miles. The worldwide figure is 60 million miles, Tesla said. CEO Elon Musk called the crash a "tragic loss" on Twitter.
"It is important to emphasize that the NHTSA action is simply a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations," the Tesla blog post said.
Tesla said it informed the NHTSA of the crash "immediately after it occurred." The Model S collided with a tractor-trailer that had crossed a divided highway. The car passed underneath the trailer, and the bottom of the trailer hit its windshield. Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer directly, Tesla claims its safety systems could have prevented the fatality.
"Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied," Tesla said. It added that Autopilot is still in the public beta phase, and that drivers must remain alert. Turning on the system requires drivers to acknowledge a message reminding them to "maintain control and responsibility" for the vehicle, and to "be prepared to take over at any time," the company noted.
The issue of liability will be one that will be debated for some time. Sandee Perfetto, Director of Personal Auto Product Development at Verisk Insurance Solutions spoke to Digital Trends and reminded us that these questions were being asked even before autonomous driving was on the table. "Even now, when we have so many advanced crash avoidance technologies… you get the questions of 'where is the line?' Who is responsible?"
In in interview with Bloomberg in 2014 , Musk stressed how much the driver is very much still a part of the system, even with autopilot engaged. "We're going to be quite clear with customers that the responsibility remains with the driver. We're not asserting that the car is capable of driving in the absence of driver oversight."
Further evidence of the driver's lack of oversight was confirmed by local authorities. Reuters reports a portable DVD player with a film from the Harry Potter film series showing on the screen was found at the scene of the incident.
Digital Trends reached out to Tesla for its perspective, but the automaker redirected us back to the "tragic loss" post on its blog, as this is its only statement on the matter.
- 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning: America's bestselling vehicle goes electric
- Tesla's Autopilot can be easily tricked, engineers find
- Elon Musk suggests Autopilot was off in fatal Texas Tesla crash
- Fatal Tesla crash in Texas appeared to have no one behind the wheel
- Best car brands
- Arizona halts Uber self-driving car tests after fatal crash
- Uber driver was watching tv show prior to fatal crash, police say
- Champion poker player, 49, 'involved in fatal crash that left a cyclist dead' near the high-flying gambler's luxury four-bedroom Sydney home
- Fatal Crash; Package Thefts: Mill Valley, North Bay Police Log
- Tesla to dial back Autopilot mode in wake of "crazy videos on YouTube"
- Greenfield Police Asking For Help In Forest Home Fatal Crash
- Fatal Crash At Route 126 And Ridge Road: State Police
- Can autonomous cars have a moral conscience? Views from DW's science desk
- Google Will Now Tell You When Its Driverless Cars Crash
- Tesla drove 7 miles using Autopilot as driver allegedly slept drunk behind the wheel
- Tesla raises point of entry as deletes cheaper versions
- Seven people - including a Texas pilot, his wife and their three young children - are killed after their six-seater plane crashed into dense woods in Canada
NHTSA investigates Tesla after fatal crash while vehicle was in autonomous mode have 776 words, post on www.digitaltrends.com at July 2, 2016. This is cached page on TechNews. If you want remove this page, please contact us.