Telsa’s Autopilot has been blamed for yet another fatal crash.
Last March, a driver in a Tesla Model 3 engaged his car’s Autopilot, a feature that Tesla advertises as a self-driving car. Ten seconds later, the driver was dead after his Model 3 collided with a semitrailer.
The accident took place in Florida on a sunny day as the semi-truck pulled out of a private driveway onto the highway. In order to access the northbound lanes, it needed to cross the two southbound lanes and enter the median lane. As the trailer pulled out onto the highway, the Model 3 continued on and slammed into the trailer, shearing off its roof and the topmost portion of the driver with it.
In a tweet published on Thursday, the National Transportation Safety Board posted their preliminary findings from the investigation performed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They found that the driver activated the Model 3’s Autopilot 10 seconds before the collision, and in contradiction to Tesla’s stated recommendations, removed his hands from the steering wheel 8 seconds before the crash.
No attempt at evasive maneuvers was made by either the driver or Autopilot. The driver struck the trailer at 68 mph on a 55 mph highway.
NTSB issued preliminary report Thursday for its ongoing investigation of the fatal, March 1, 2019, highway crash near Delray Beach, Florida. The preliminary report is available at; https://t.co/KsUmeOFh2p— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) May 16, 2019
The NHTSA and NTSB are still investigating, but this is another example of Tesla selling a product as autonomy when it’s not. Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance package that can take care of mundane tasks like lane keeping and highway driving, and Tesla says it can help with driver safety, but it is not a replacement for an actual human driver.
At least, not yet. Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced improvements to Autopilot that allegedly offer fully autonomous driving thanks to an improved computer chip. Industry experts and competitors disagree as Autopilot still uses just cameras and radar to navigate its surroundings and not a laser-based detection system that can see solid objects more accurately than radar.