National Transportation Safety Board Opens Investigation Into Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash

JUL 11 2016 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 22

The aftermath of the Tesla Autopilot crash

The aftermath of the Tesla Autopilot crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has officially opened an investigation into the recent fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash. The fact that the NTSB has taken this incident on suggests that it is very substantial for multiple reasons. Executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, Chris Ditlow, shared:

Joshua Brown, victim of the fatal crash had previously posted multiple YouTube videos showing off the Autopilot technology

Joshua Brown, victim of the fatal crash, had previously posted multiple YouTube videos showing off the Autopilot technology

“The NTSB only investigates crashes with broader implications. They’re not looking at just this crash. They’re looking at the broader aspects. Are these driverless vehicles safe? Are there enough regulations in place to ensure their safety? And one thing in this crash I’m certain they’re going to look at is using the American public as test drivers for beta systems in vehicles. That is simply unheard of in auto safety.”

Not to be confused with the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), the NTSB is called on to investigate and recommend transportation policy. The NTSB only investigates about 25-30 automobile accidents per year. Much of its focus goes to over 1,000 aviation incidents.

The irony of the situation and the NTSB’s involvement is that the organization is repeatedly suggesting and advising the implementation of more automated safety technology in the transportation industry. However, its job is also to investigate such incidents and figure out if and why the technology was the cause, and offer future solutions.

In other cases, the NTSB has noted that certain autopilot features were turned off or not properly functioning, causing planes to crash. The pilots counted on the technology being there and didn’t take over. NTSB chairman Christopher Hart explained:

“We have learned that pilots must understand and command automation, and not become over-reliant on it. The pilot must always be the boss.”

This crash is being reported as the first known fatal crash in Tesla’s Autopilot Mode. The company says that it has logged over 130 million Autopilot miles thus far. The car failed to stop and drove under a truck trailer in Florida, apparently due to the white vehicle and confusion with either the bright sky or a white sign. Details are still not official, and hopefully much more will be revealed once the investigation is complete.

Source: Autonews

Categories: Crashed EVs, Tesla

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

22 Comments on "National Transportation Safety Board Opens Investigation Into Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash"

newest oldest most voted

“We have learned that pilots must understand and command automation, and not become over-reliant on it. The pilot must always be the boss.”

Yes, but pilots receive a significant amount of training, by a trained instructor, before being given a pilot’s license. An ordinary driver’s license requires shockingly little; in many cases, no training by a trained instructor at all.

In any case, I think it very unlikely that the process of getting a driver’s license will be changed to test whether or not the wannabe driver is capable of understanding and appropriately using semi-autonomous driving features.

Bottom line: Auto makers are going to have to try to make semi-autonomous “driver assist” features as idiot-proof as possible. Note I do not, repeat not, suggest that it’s actually possible to make them fully idiot proof. It’s an ideal that needs to be strive for, in the same way that auto makers strive to make their cars as safe as possible, while still realizing that there will continue to be fatal accidents in even the safest of cars.

“Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently capable fool.” — Murphy’s Laws

the auto pilot feature is in beta test stage. nobody is going to change driver’s license right now. but public deployment of auto pilot DOES need regulation. the only regulation by tesla is that they make you pay a few thousand dollars.

No thanks on the auto thingy.

Tesla should sell a Model 3 without any mechanical or source code that is needed for autopilot, in a stripped down trim Model 3.

Cost should be less than $35,000.00 ($31,000?) or whatever the base price is.

Less shtuff in the car the less shtuff could break.
KISS

Driver will be held 100% responsible.

Less does not necessarily mean cheaper.

Tesla should start at that trim/price point then. That would really bring the price lower than the LG Bolt

That’s the problem with buying cars. You have to buy a bunch of crap to get that ONE item you want.
That’s similar to Cable TV / Cell Phone bundles.

LOL.

Model 3 IS cheaper.

Bolt is 37 000 $
Model 3 is 35 000 $

See the difference? GM though ALWAYS first provide price with federal tax incentive included. Most media outlets can’t understand the difference 😉

That would be an excellent idea if Tesla’s plan is to make the Model ≡ obsolete as fast as possible.

Somehow I doubt they’ll leave out Autopilot features, just as I doubt they’ll omit such things as power windows, intermittent wipers, cruise control (and even ACC), air conditioning, or turn signals that turn themselves off after you complete a turn.

The Model ≡ won’t be competing against the Ford Model T. It will be competing against modern cars built by other auto makers. As such, it had darn well better have all the features that new car buyers will come to expect in the next few years.

Frankly I don’t see a Tesla without AP being obsolete anytime soon, especially with 99% of the other car builders selling out diesels and gas cars by the millions without AP as brand new cars to the public.

AP is an option that can be offered like dual motors but I don’t see why it would be made an option that comes with the car no matter what. If so, let’s have a 120 KWh battery no matter what.

It would only need to come with the mount points and wiring for the various sensors. The sensors themselves could be installed later, as could any specialized control unit.

From a production standpoint it is actually easier to include the wiring, since it would be part of the standard wiring harnesses.

I guess you do not care about resale value of your car.

I keep my cars “Till death do us part”.

How about remove remote control, cruse control, radio, automatic windows?

Human enhancement with new technology, I don’t want a cheap Model III, I want a car gives me the most enjoyment and fair price.

I was amused by the question “Are these driverless cars safe?” As if safety is some kind of binary state like pregnancy. Have you ever looked up the safety warnings on aspirin? And that marshmallow could lodge in your throat and choke you to death. The question here is not whether Autopilot is safe; the real question is whether Autopilot is safer than no Autopilot.

Agreed. And determining the answer to that will best be done comparing apples-to-apples within the safety performance of Tesla Model S. We (the public) are unfortunately probably wasting our time talking about publicly available numbers at this point regarding whether AutoPilot is safer than without. Fortunately, NHTSA and NTSB will likely have access to the proper statistics, but the statistical sample may still be too small to make a definitive statement.

dRanger said:

“The question here is not whether Autopilot is safe; the real question is whether Autopilot is safer than no Autopilot.” (emphasis added)

Now there is a Truth which, by rights, should be included in every single article questioning the safety of any autonomous or semi-autonomous driving system; not just Tesla Autopilot.

This is was automaker already doing today. This is the basic point of every sytem developed with ISO26262 today.

“The Model ≡ won’t be competing against the Ford Model T. It will be competing against modern cars built by other auto makers. As such, it had darn well better have all the features that new car buyers will come to expect in the next few years.”

That’s where both Tesla and GM made the mistake of calling the Bolt and Model 3 the “First affordable EV”.

To most, an affordable car is the Civic, Sentra, Cruze, Focus or Corolla.

When all vehicles are required to transmit a 50 yard Wi-Fi beacon, vehicle collisions will be eradicated.

NPNS! SBF!
Volt#671

Since software is perfect! Lol.

It shows Tesla’s paradox, that we can be AP beta testers but are otherwise not trusted to really push the (AWD) car. I’m just noticing how cruise control slows down remarkably early, as the steering wheel is turned. So, its big brother when you want to be the one engaging, and “go ahead and try it” when it comes to Autopilot.

also NTSB should look in the biking industry,allowing people to bike with loose hand-bar,mostly without lights,carrying headphones or texting……

It seems that a lot of commenters are missing the fact that the driver must be prepared to stop/react if AP can not handle the situation presented to it. That’s not a knock on Tesla. That’s a level headed comment about technology.

Sensors fail. Software fails. Software has logic gaps. Processors and memory fails.

Think about it: would you really want to put your life on the line if the system hangs or has another fault condition?

Paying attention while in the drivers seat gives you a chance to handle those situations and live.

Your attentiveness might also save the life of the bicyclist you share the road with. And the mom with the pram crossing the street. And the person on the next lane that swerves into yours because of the thing that falls off the truck. And the kid that steps out from behind a car, or opens a door, etc, etc, etc.

You really think Tesla AP handles all those edge cases?

The manual says it does not handle them all.

But hey, no problem – you’re a beta tester, right?

Are those other folks beta testers too?

– A Tesla Model S driver.