Tesla system partly to blame in fatal 2016 crash: safety panel

A Tesla logo hangs on a building outside of a Tesla dealership in New York U.S

A Tesla logo hangs on a building outside of a Tesla dealership in New York U.S

In response to the report, Tesla said Autopilot "significantly increases safety", citing a January finding by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the system's lane-centering steering feature reduces accident rates by 40 percent.

"System safeguards were lacking", NTSB Chairman Robert Zumwalt said today in statement.

The NTSB staff said that Brown was knowledgable about the vehicle, but that the Tesla user manual offered sometimes conflicting accounts. "Instead they're asleep at the wheel and didn't even bother to address Level 2 technologies in their new voluntary guidance".

"The result was a collision that, frankly, should have never happened", he continued. The board unanimously recommended that automakers be required to limit the use of partially self-driving technology by ensuring that drivers are actively engaged in driving at all times. A possible solution could be a camera that tracks eye movement. Indeed, two minutes before the crash, vehicle data indicate Brown adjusted cruise-control speed, NTSB said. "He should be held accountable for his deadly hype".

In a statement, Tesla said "we appreciate the NTSB's analysis of last year's tragic accident and we will evaluate their recommendations as we continue to evolve our technology".

"Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed, and the system gave far more leeway to the driver to divert his attention to something other than driving", Board member Christopher Hart said.

The report's findings state that while the driver of the truck failed to yield the right of way to the Tesla driver, the latter was too heavily reliant on the car's automated system, which is the likely reason he did not try to avoid the oncoming collision.

Other recommendations centered around data collection and designs for determining whether drivers are actually paying attention behind the wheel.

Brown, 40, died May 7, 2016, in Williston, Florida, after a tractor-trailer turned in front of him. "The probability of having an accident is 50% lower if you have Autopilot on", said Musk at a 2016 energy conference in Oslo, Norway. Investigators said they do not know if the truck driver saw the approaching Tesla, as the driver refused requests to be interviewed.

Two minutes earlier, according to reports, Brown had set the speed at nearly 10 miles per hour above the posted speed limit. Investigators later found that Brown's hands were on the steering wheel for 25 seconds of the 37 minutes the vehicle was in Autopilot, and the car's operating system warned Brown seven times to place his hands back on the wheel before hitting the truck.

Monitoring driver attention by measuring the driver's touching of the steering wheel "was a poor surrogate for monitored driving engagement", said the board.

"We heard numerous times that the auto killed our son", the family said. "That is simply not the case", the family's statement said.

The NTSB, an independent government investigative agency, met on Tuesday to "determine the probable cause" of the fatal crash previous year in Williston, Florida. "There was a small window of time when neither Joshua nor the Tesla features noticed the truck making the left-hand turn in front of the vehicle".

Traditional automakers plan to gradually introduce features until the day arrives when they've produced a fully autonomous vehicle.

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