Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

Warnings were issued before Autopilot crash


The driver killed in the 2016 crash of a Tesla Model S took his hands off the wheel while using autopilot despite repeated warnings not to do so, government investigators have found. According to the ruling from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Autopilot feature isn't at fault for the accident.

Tesla's Autopilot is basically a set of safety technologies working together to deliver a semi-autonomous driving experience. Data shows that over a 37-minute stretch of time, his hands were only on the wheel for 25 seconds.

A new report from USA investigators shows the driver killed in a 2016 crash while using Tesla's Autopilot feature only had his hands on the steering wheel for 25 seconds during a almost 40-minute drive. As Reuters reports, Landskroner said the NTSB's findings should put that claim to rest.

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A review of his mobile phone and other electronic devices found in the vehicle didn't uncover any evidence that they were in use at the time of the crash. The NTSB, therefore, had to rely on Tesla to provide the data in engineering units using proprietary manufacturer software. He added that the family has not taken any legal action against Tesla and was still reviewing the NTSB report.

NHTSA also investigated the Autopilot crash, but ended its investigation in January and said it found no problem with how Autopilot operated.

Earlier reports by NTSB on the crash have concluded that in addition to going hands-free for the majority of the trip, Brown also made no effort to brake, steer or otherwise avert the deadly accident. The board said the documents amount to "factual information collected by NTSB investigators".

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The Brown family has not sued Tesla over the crash.

The crash, near Gainesville, Florida, in May 2016, drew attention because of the questions it raised about the safety of self-driving cars. Whenever something like this happens, Tesla likes to remind us that Autopilot "does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility". It also found that Brown had ignored the vehicle's warnings to remain in control even when using the driver-assist function.

The board's next step is to issue a report on the cause of the vehicle accident, along with possible recommendations to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening again in the future. Brown did not manually apply the brakes either with his last input to the auto being setting the cruise control to 74 mile per hour in a 65 zone. The report mentioned that Brown did not take any action to avoid the collision. "He is due for a court hearing on Wednesday".

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