Report Reveals Driver In Tesla Autopilot Fatality Ignored Multiple Warnings

Tesla Autopilot

JUN 21 2017 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 47

Tesla Autopilot

Scene Of May 7th Tesla Model S Autopilot Fatality (via ABC News/Bobby Vankavelaar)

Sadly, a former Navy SEAL lost his life last year while driving a Tesla with semi-autonomous software, but the government findings should be considered a very serious lesson for all.

No matter who or what is at fault, the death of anyone — regardless of their choices or the situation — is absolutely terrible. This may seem especially true when the person was partaking in something that they had a profound love for. Joshua Brown lost his life while driving his prized Tesla Model S, and relying on his favorite feature; Tesla Autopilot.

In January, after a lengthy investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that Tesla was not at fault for the accident. The administration actually went so far as to say the Tesla’s Autosteer feature has been found to reduce crashes. According to Reuters:

Tesla Auopilot

Joshua Brown, victim of the fatal crash, posted multiple YouTube videos showing off the Autopilot technology. He was enamored with the car and its “self-driving” technology.

“NHTSA said Brown did not apply the brakes and his last action was to set the cruise control at 74 miles (119 km) per hour less than two minutes before the crash — above the 65 mph speed limit.”

Since then, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been finalizing an investigation of its own, and has now released a 500-page document of the incident. The organization was unable to access Tesla’s proprietary data, but Tesla used its own methods to extract the data and provide it to the NTSB. The data concluded (via Reuters):

“During a 37-minute period of the trip when Brown was required to have his hands on the wheel, he apparently did so for just 25 seconds, the NTSB said in the report.

The report said the Autopilot mode remained on during most of his trip and that it gave him a visual warning seven separate times that said ‘Hands Required Not Detected.’

In six cases, the system then sounded a chime before it returned to ‘Hands Required Detected’ for one to three second periods.”

Tesla noted that Brown should have been able to see the truck for a minimum of seven seconds prior to impact. However, he made no attempt to steer the car or apply the brakes. The truck driver was charged with a right-of-way violation, and is due in court soon.

Jack Landskroner, Brown’s family lawyer verified that the family has not taken any legal action against Tesla. He only pointed out that early media reports explained that Brown was watching a movie when the car crashed. The NTSB’s report shows that this is untrue.

This horrible accident should shed even more light on the fact that we must pay attention while driving. Semi-autonomous systems help us, and will lead to less accidents, but they can’t be trusted to drive unassisted. Even as self-driving technology improves, hands-off driving is a major risk, and it’s important to take the manufacturer’s’ precautions and built-in warning systems seriously.

Source: Reuters

Categories: Tesla

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47 Comments on "Report Reveals Driver In Tesla Autopilot Fatality Ignored Multiple Warnings"

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EV future
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EV future

Steven, in a culture of sensationalized headline grabbing, I thank you for your empathetic and thoughtful article.
I am glad that this horrible accident seems to be so thoroughly investigated.

Pushmi-Pullyu
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Pushmi-Pullyu

Well said!

Yes, InsideEVs is to be commended for putting a headline on this article which avoids sensationalism, despite the fatality involved.

Nix
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Nix

The title of the story should be “Former Navy SEAL killed in suspected DUI” based upon the documents just released on 6/19. (see my posts below)

CLIVE
Guest
CLIVE

Horrible situation he put himself into

Regardless RIP Joshua Brown ‼️

Nix
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Nix

You mean the horrible situation the TRUCK DRIVER put him into by violating the law and illegally making a left turn in front of him, unlawfully crossing in front of Joshua’s right-of-way?

Yes, he should have been paying attention, but if it weren’t for the truck making an illegal turn, none of this could have happened.

CLIVE
Guest
CLIVE

If it isn’t one thing it is another.

He was not paying attention.

He’s primarily responsible.

Died while sleeping.

RIP Mr. Brown!

Nix
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Nix

“Died while sleeping.”

Source? Because the evidence doesn’t support that claim.

Are you claiming he set the cruise control in his sleep?

“He’s primarily responsible.” Bullpucky. He had 100% of the right-of-way. Do you even understand the concept of right-of-way? The only way he could be primarily responsible is if he violated the right-of-way of the truck making a left hand turn in front of traffic. How do you support your implication that the truck had the right-of-way to cross in front of an oncoming car?

K-lein
Guest
K-lein

The right of way is no guarantee of passage.
Drivers are supposed to be aware of all the other road users around them and drive responsibly.

It has been demonstrated that Joshua Brown should have had ample time to see the truck and prevent the collision.
By not paying attention, Joshua Brown drove recklessly and becomes largely responsible for the accident.

Also, by driving over the speed limit, Joshua Brown compromised the ability of the truck driver to evaluate the amount of time he had to make his turn.

These are 2 reasons to argue that the truck driver is not responsible for the collision.

Nix
Guest
Nix
K-lein — “The right of way is no guarantee of passage.” There are no guarantees anywhere in the law. You may be murdered even though murder is among the most serious of criminal offenses. So that comment is just a red-herring. —————————————- “Drivers are supposed to be aware of all the other road users around them and drive responsibly.” Actually, the primary responsibility is to follow the law and obey the right-of-way. Failing to avoid an accident caused when SOMEBODY ELSE violates the law and fails to yield you the right-of-way does NOT make the accident your fault. You can’t drive around cutting in front of people who have the right of way, and then say everything is everybody else’s fault because they failed to avoid hitting you when you failed to yield the right-of-way. —————————————- “It has been demonstrated that Joshua Brown should have had ample time to see the truck and prevent the collision. By not paying attention, Joshua Brown drove recklessly and becomes largely responsible for the accident.” Yes, he had 7 seconds to act and he did not. He should have been paying more attention and even though the accident wasn’t legally his fault, he may… Read more »
Nix
Guest
Nix

“These are 2 reasons to argue that the truck driver is not responsible for the collision.”

Would the Truck Driver make those arguments before or after he explained why he was smoking pot?

(see my posts below about the Truck Driver’s blood test results testing positive for THC)

James P Heartney
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James P Heartney

This is the problem with Level 3 autonomy; drivers will think it’s Level 4 and stop paying attention.

True Level 4-5 autonomy is really hard, much more difficult than setting up an impressive time-limited demo. Yet most of the really interesting uses of driverless tech require greater than Level 3 autonomy.

georgeS
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georgeS

I got a loaner at the tesla service center and tested AP on 2, 90 mile trips.

If you have hands off now for too many times in a row you get booted off the system.

Message:

“Tesla auto steer not available for the rest of this drive”

TomArt
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TomArt

WOW! I did not know that – very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

Robert Weekley
Guest

So you stop. Shut off, leave the drivers seat, walk around the car, get back in, and off you go again! Is that all it takes to start a new trip?

Nix
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Nix

What about the horrible lesson not to break the law and illegally pull your truck out in front of oncoming traffic?!?!?

CLIVE
Guest
CLIVE

What about sleeping w/ CC set 9 miles over the limit.

You should have been a lawyer.

If you are one, no surprise!

Nix
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Nix

He wasn’t sleeping, because he has just actively set the cruise control less than 2 minutes earlier. The facts prove you wrong:

“his last action was to set the cruise control at 74 miles (119 km) per hour less than two minutes before the crash ”

He wasn’t paying attention to the road for approx 7 seconds. Yes, he should have been paying attention, it would have given him time to avoid the collision that the TRUCK DRIVER was responsible for causing when the TRUCK DRIVER broke the law.

CLIVE
Guest
CLIVE

“During a 37-minute period of the trip when Brown was required to have his hands on the wheel, he apparently did so for just 25 seconds, the NTSB said in the report.

The report said the Autopilot mode remained on during most of his trip and that it gave him a visual warning seven separate times that said ‘Hands Required Not Detected.’

In six cases, the system then sounded a chime before it returned to ‘Hands Required Detected’ for one to three second periods.”

I rest my case.

Next /

Nix
Guest
Nix

Are you trying to claim that him ignoring the warnings proved he was asleep?

It absolutely does not, and here is why:

“his last action was to set the cruise control at 74 miles (119 km) per hour less than two minutes before the crash”.

Are you claiming he set the cruise control in his sleep?????

Stop the nonsense. He was awake and willfully ignoring the warnings. He wasn’t asleep. Stop making up lies.

CLIVE.
Guest
CLIVE.

Figuratively he was asleep because clearly is was ignoring all warnings and had his hands at his side just like he posted many times on YouTube.

Clearly he wasn’t watching the road.

Clearly dying was not his plan.

He put himself hugely at risk.

The truck was wrong.

So was Joshua. /

Nix
Guest
Nix

I’ve seen his videos, and in every video he was clearly awake and aware, even commenting to the video what the car was doing, and was fully engaged.

How EXACTLY is that supposed to be proof that he was “asleep” either literally or figuratively?

You sound desperate now to just cover your erroneous post by using double-talk.

Yes, he should have been paying more attention, and he may have been able to avoid a vehicle that had violated the law. We don’t know what he was doing in the 7 seconds before the accident where he failed to see the truck illegally make a left turn in front of him.

So far all the accusations such as he was watching a video, or he was doing 90 MPH, or he was asleep have ALL been debunked.

The only FACT that has continued to remain true throughout is that the truck driver illegally pulled his truck out in front of oncoming traffic while illegally making a left hand turn.

Nix
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Nix

If anybody was sleepy, it would have been the Truck Driver, who tested positive for THC in his blood system at levels that would get him automatically convicted of driving while impaired in many states.

Lethargy and sleepiness are known side effects of THC. (see my posts below with his blood test results)

terminaltrip421
Guest
terminaltrip421

I see george says that there are repercussions for not obeying warnings but I wonder if they couldn’t cause the car to decelerate / shift out of cruise control and kick them out of the system for not abiding the warnings.

Pushmi-Pullyu
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Pushmi-Pullyu

My understanding is that the current version of Tesla Autopilot will do exactly that. But that “nanny mode” wasn’t programmed in when this accident occurred.

Assaf
Guest

Wait, so the warnings were just “put your hands on the steering wheel”?

If so, then the title is misleading. It makes it sound as if the autopilot was warning about the violating truck. It was not.

While Tesla is technically right that the autopilot is not yet complete – the huge, Yuge hype autopilot is being given, most of all by Tesla, can easily mislead drivers to imagine that it is.

This means that sadly tragedies like these are likely to happen in the near future.

Stimpacker
Guest
Stimpacker

The title seems fine to me – “driver ignored multiple warnings”.

It stands to reason that one should pay attention if the car is calling for you to grab the steering wheel.

As Nix said above, blame the truck.
There are thousands of “sad tragedies” happening on the road every day. Will you do nothing?

I don’t see how my car’s multiple warnings about AP can be misconstrued to make me think it is Level 4 full AP.

Assaf thinks a lot of drivers are idiots. So he should petition for increased training maybe before a driver’s license is issued.

CLIVE
Guest
CLIVE

Bingo!

Assaf
Guest
Assaf

Precisely. A lot of drivers are idiots in the way they drive.

That’s why most rules of the road are near-100% idiot-proof, for example stoplights, divided highways, roundabouts and highway interchanges.

All the hype around autpilot, and the way Tesla has been rolling it out, is idiot-enabling, not idiot-proof. If Tesla is serious about “hands on wheel at all times”, then it is not difficult to automatically disable autopilot after, say, 10 seconds without hands on wheel.

To hype, then to hide behind the letter of the law when the inevitable result of hype occurs, is what politicians do, not how a tech company on a mission should behave.

Which reminds me : Far more voters are idiots in the way they vote, compared to the # of idiot drivers.

Nix
Guest
Nix

Except the statistics are clear. The number of people who use autopilot correctly and the autopilot successfully avoids collisions greatly outnumbers the number of idiots using autopilot incorrectly.

The analysis of the statistics by the gov’t showed that autopilot reduced accidents by 40%.

Pushmi-Pullyu
Guest
Pushmi-Pullyu

“If Tesla is serious about ‘hands on wheel at all times’, then it is not difficult to automatically disable autopilot after, say, 10 seconds without hands on wheel.”

You have seriously misconstrued the intent of Autopilot/AutoSteer. The intent is to parallel that of an airplane’s autopilot, which leaves the pilot hands-free — but the pilot is expected to remain “situationally aware” and keep his eyes on where he’s flying!

And altho there is some truth to what you say about Tesla hyping Autopilot in its ads, at the same time Tesla makes the reality very clear to actual drivers of their cars. Here is an actual screen shot of the warning screen for AutoSteer from more or less the period of time of the accident in question. I’m not sure this was the exact screen Mr. Brown saw when he used this feature, as Tesla has updated it from time to time, but if this isn’t the exact one, then Mr. Brown would have seen something rather similar:

Pushmi-Pullyu
Guest
Pushmi-Pullyu

“This means that sadly tragedies like these are likely to happen in the near future.”

Yes, repeatedly ignoring safety warnings often leads to severe injury or death.

People who cannot understand that should not be operating 2.25 ton motor vehicles at high speeds. In fact, if they’re likely to act in such an irresponsible manner, they shouldn’t be allowed outside without a guardian or baby-sitter.

Not to dispute what Nix said; legally, the truck driver was at fault. But in Driver’s Ed we were taught to drive defensively. Yes, Mr. Brown was in the right — dead right, as they grimly labeled this situation in Driver’s Ed.

CLIVE.
Guest
CLIVE.

QFT

Mister G
Guest
Mister G

Rest in Peace. Mr. Brown will save many lives going forward.

sven ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Guest
sven ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

He will? How exactly? All the previous Darwin Award winners/recipients didn’t prevent Mr. Brown from making the choices he made that resulted in him losing his life.

Mister G
Guest
Mister G

Once I get my model 3 I will not make the same mistakes…I will learn from Mr. Brown’s tragedy. That’s how lives will be saved. Anything else I can assist you in?

sven ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Guest
sven ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

He will? How exactly? All the previous Darwin Award winners/recipients didn’t prevent Mr. Brown from making the choices he made that resulted in him losing his life.

Scott Franco
Guest
Scott Franco

This is lame. The warnings were: “put your hands back on the wheel”???? (not: “you are going to hit a frigging truck”).

This is an excuse. The autopilot screwed up and misrecognized a truck in the road. Fine, he should not have relied on the autopilot, but you can’t say both that the issue is overreliance on the autopilot at the same time saying that Tesla is rolling out the autopilot for full time use.

Tesla is overreliant on cameras for the autopilot. Others are using Lidar, which does not rely on how the computer interprets what it sees. If it says there is an object in the car’s path, there is an object in the cars path.

James P Heartney
Guest
James P Heartney

A couple of reasons Tesla is trying to do without Lidar:

1. Lidar is pretty expensive. You want Lidar on your Model 3? You’ll be paying Model S prices.

2. Currently, there’s no capacity to build Lidar devices in mass market numbers. They can barely keep up with the demand just for the research vehicles using it.

Pushmi-Pullyu
Guest
Pushmi-Pullyu

1. I see at least one commercially made 360° lidar scanner online for under $450, and that’s retail price — not wholesale.

2. If true, that means Tesla can lower the price even further by arranging for a supplier to make it in mass quantities. There is a Kickstarter campaign for the “Sweep V1” lidar scanner, for an aspirational price of $350. Probably not a realistic price for a cottage industry product, but frankly I don’t see why a lidar scanner needs to be all that expensive. You can buy a laser range finder for as little as $110 at Amazon.com.

Your objections look a lot more like an opportunity waiting to be exploited than an actual barrier.

Pushmi-Pullyu
Guest
Pushmi-Pullyu
Scott Franco said: “The warnings were: “put your hands back on the wheel”???? (not: “you are going to hit a frigging truck”).” If you really think that the computer chip inside a Tesla car is able to understand the world on a human level; understand it well enough to recognize what a “person” is, and predict that “he” is about to have a serious accident… if you really think a computer chip is that aware of the “real world” and that smart, then you had best stick to fully manual drive until such time as autonomous driving systems are developed enough to be reliable under most driving conditions. “This is an excuse. The autopilot screwed up and misrecognized a truck in the road. Fine, he should not have relied on the autopilot, but you can’t say both that the issue is overreliance on the autopilot at the same time saying that Tesla is rolling out the autopilot for full time use.” Watch me: The driver was exhibiting a very dangerous level of overreliance on Autopilot, and thank goodness Tesla is rolling out Autopilot, which is certainly eliminating many more accidents and saving many lives, per NHTSA statistics. Unquestionably Autopilot is… Read more »
Nix
Guest
Nix

Here is an interesting little bit of information. The blood tests for the Truck Driver came back positive for THC:

“Post-Crash Toxicology
Following the crash, at the direction of FHP, a blood sample from the truck driver was obtained at 6:11 p.m., about 1.5 hours after the crash. The sample was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement laboratory for toxicological analysis. The sample tested was positive for THC and its metabolite, and negative for 9 common classes of abuse drugs. At the request of the NTSB, CAMI conducted additional analysis of the limited amount of the truck driver’s blood sample. This analysis was completed on May 17, 2017, and revealed:

3.1 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL) of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

66.2 ng/mL of THC metabolite, tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid

The Department of Transportation (DOT) post-crash drug and alcohol testing was not performed. DOT regulations require a carrier to submit the accident driver for drug and alcohol screening following a crash. The carrier did not comply with this regulation.”

https://dms.ntsb.gov/public/59500-59999/59989/604712.pdf

Nix
Guest
Nix

In 15 of the 18 states that have driving while intoxicated laws that are based on cannabis blood level testing, the Truck Driver’s blood levels would have been high enough to meet the per se standards for being guilty of impaired driving.

For example: 3.1 ng of THC is 1.5 times the legal limit in Nevada and Ohio, and three times the legal limit in Pennsylvania. The blood test alone would be enough to get a conviction for driving while intoxicated in those states.

Lucky for the Truck Driver, there are no “per se” blood level laws in Florida. It will be interesting to see what charges he faces when he goes to court.

Nix
Guest
Nix

A little bit more information, the Truck Driver has indeed been under investigation for the Offense of:

DUI – Fatality
Levy County
5/7/2016

https://dms.ntsb.gov/public/59500-59999/59989/604748.pdf

I find it perplexing that this information (just released to the public 6/19/2017) has been withheld, and is hidden among 500+ pages of documents, and isn’t prominently highlighted as in the NTSB summary and press releases.

This appears to be much more of a case about a commercial driver committing potential a DWI Fatality offense than it is about anything else. I’m not sure why that isn’t the story?

Pushmi-Pullyu
Guest
Pushmi-Pullyu

“This appears to be much more of a case about a commercial driver committing potential a DWI Fatality offense than it is about anything else. I’m not sure why that isn’t the story?”

Because, of course, just one more traffic fatality caused by “driving under the influence” is so common it’s not “news”.

What is truly disturbing is seeing such resistance, even among tech-savvy EV supporters, to a technology which is already significantly reducing traffic accidents, including fatal ones.

Four Electrics
Guest
Four Electrics

Autopilot had 7x the per-mile fatality rate of non-AP Teslas. Fortunately that rush-job has been replaced with another, better rush job. I expect good things, in time.

Nix
Guest
Nix

Source? Because the investigation triggered by this accident proved exactly the opposite, that AP showed a 40% reduction in the collision rate:

“NHTSA Closes Tesla Autopilot Death Investigation, No Recall Necessary, Autosteer Reduces Crash Rate By 40%”

http://insideevs.com/nhtsa-closes-tesla-autopilot-death-investigation-no-recall-necessary/

James
Guest
James

What a BS. This has nothing to do with autosteer.
The overhyped system was crap and did not see the truck.