NHTSA expected to close Tesla investigation over autopilot death

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The representative suggested that the NHTSA did not find evidence of any defect that would necessitate a recall.

Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are likely to announce that they are closing their investigation into the death of a Tesla driver using the vehicle’s autopilot functionality. Opened six months ago, the investigation was meant to determine whether or not the Tesla Model S, or its autopilot feature included any defects which might require a recall.

If you’ve forgotten, a Tesla Model S driver was using the autopilot feature when his vehicle passed directly underneath the trailer of a semi that was driving perpendicular to his vehicle. The autopilot feature did not recognize the white side of the trailer against the bright sky and therefore did not apply the brakes. It was found that the deceased was likely watching a movie at the time and did not apply the brakes either.

The representative, who asked not to be named since the outcome had not yet been officially announced, suggested that the NHTSA did not find evidence of any defect that would necessitate a recall or any further investigation.

In the time since this crash, Tesla has made some changes to the autopilot feature after deciding that it previously lulled drivers into a false sense of security. This was not a feature meant to completely automate the entire driving experience, and recent changes have placed more responsibility back on the driver in order to help prevent any more accidents such as the one that spurred this investigation. Updates to the system will disable autopilot if drivers to not respond to warnings to take control of the vehicle.

What do you think about this decision from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration? Was autopilot to blame or was the driver distracted and using the system inappropriately? Tell us what you think in the comment section below, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

  Source: Reuters
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