NTSB says Tesla's Autopilot was active during fatal Model 3 crash

Tesla 3 crash in Florida 2019

NTSB says Tesla's Autopilot was active during fatal Model 3 crash

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a report on Thursday confirming Autopilot was engaged during a recent, fatal crash involving a Tesla Model 3.

The details of the crash are strikingly similar to the first fatal Autopilot accident, which involved an older Model S that struck a semi that was crossing a divided Florida highway.

In this case, it appears the Tesla did not notice the the semi trailer as it turned out in front of the auto.

After its investigation of the fatal 2016 Florida crash, the NTSB found fault with the Tesla's design of Autopilot. The system also can keep a vehicle in its lane, change lanes and navigate freeway interchanges. The auto did not detect the driver's hands on the wheel for eight seconds. "Neither the preliminary data nor the videos indicate that the driver or the ADAS [advanced driver assistance system] executed evasive maneuvers", stated the NTSB. The vehicle was traveling around 68 miles per hour at the time, 13 miles per hour above the speed limit in the area.

NHTSA, which has the power to order safety recalls, is investigating a fatal incident in Davie, Florida, on February 24 involving a 2016 Tesla Model S that caught fire and burned the 48-year-old driver beyond recognition. Vehicle logs show that he took his hands off the steering wheel immediately after activating Autopilot, the statement said.

According to NTSB investigators, Tesla's advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), Autopilot, was engaged about 10 seconds before impact. A spokesperson told the Register that autopilot makes journeys safer when "used properly by an attentive driver who is prepared to take control at all times".

Tesla's "Autopilot" system was engaged by a driver who was killed in a March crash in Florida, according to an initial accident report released Thursday.

Neither Brown nor his vehicle braked for a tractor-trailer, which had turned left in front of the Tesla and was crossing its path. The crash sheared off the roof as the Tesla traveled under the semitrailer.

While some Tesla drivers say they are able to avoid holding the steering wheel for extended periods while using Autopilot, Tesla advises drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and pay attention while using the system. The Delray Beach crash, he said, reinforces that Autopilot is being allowed to operate in situations it can not handle safely.

'Their system can not literally see the broad side of an 18-wheeler on the highway, ' Friedman said. Note that this is not enough information to say the driver definitely took his hands off the wheel; it only means the vehicle did not detect any torque from the driver's hands.

'Tesla has for too always been using human drivers as guinea pigs. "This is tragically what happens", he said.

"Two crashes with such striking similarities should be a wake up call to NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] to open a defect investigation", added Cathy Chase, president for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. "That kind of stands out", Friedman said.

The NTSB preliminary report on the March 1 collision doesn't spell out what the car's sensors detected as the vehicle approached the truck.

Autopilot was also engaged when Apple engineer Wei "Walter" Huang crashed his Model X into a road barrier and died.

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