Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Tesla driver had her hands off wheel before crash

Tesla driver had her hands off wheel before crash

Data recovered from a Tesla that was driven at 60 miles per hour into a Unified Fire Authority vehicle stopped at an intersection last Friday confirms the driver had engaged the vehicle's autopilot system, police said Wednesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating four separate collisions involving Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot.

The driver, who suffered a broken foot in the accident, has not been identified. She subsequently told authorities that she was driving in Autopilot mode.

During the driver's trip, she reportedly toggled Autopilot and active cruise control on and off on multiple occasions, and modified the vehicle's cruise speed at varying points.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent its special crash investigations team to the state, after a summary of data from the auto involved in the Friday evening crash was released on Wednesday.

According to South Jordan police's summary of technician findings, the 28-year-old driver had repeatedly enabled and disabled the Autopilot features of her Tesla Model S throughout the course of her drive. The citation was issued to the Model S driver this Wednesday. The NTSB also is examining a recent Model S crash in Florida that resulted in a fire that killed two teenage boys and injured a third.

It certainly can be improved and Tesla should use data from this crash and try to improve AEB, but until it gets better, people shouldn't rely on it.

"Those stories generally never go past local news outlets", echoed Fred Lambert, publisher of the pro-electric vehicle website Electrek, "but when a Tesla vehicle is involved, it suddenly makes national news". She retook manual control only after getting a visual alert from the system.

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"Each time she put her hands back on the wheel, she took them back off the wheel after a few seconds", Tesla's report, as released by South Jordan Police Department, said. It concluded that, "She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened".

In this case though, while I doubt it will be reported like that, the NHTSA is not looking into a potential defect with Autopilot, but it is only gathering data from the crash. It is also probing the January crash of a Tesla vehicle apparently traveling in Autopilot that struck a fire truck. He argued that the media reports disproportionately stress the dangers by Tesla owners, though later conceding that the system still could be improved. One even was shown climbing into the back seat.

Elon Musk may need to tap capital markets for more than $10 billion by 2020 to fund Tesla's automaking operations, new products and an expected expansion into China, according to Goldman Sachs Group.

"Contrary to the proper use of Autopilot, the driver did not pay attention to the road at all times, did not keep her hands on the steering wheel, and she used it on a street with no center median and with stoplight controlled intersections", the report said.

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But during an earnings conference call this month, Musk indicated a fully autonomous - as in hands-free - version of Autopilot is close to release.

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