United States safety board to investigate second Tesla autopilot crash

Whose fault? Tesla crashes into fire truck driver blames autopilot
Culver City Firefighters Twitter

25 January, 2018

In a post on Twitter, the federal safety agency said the "field investigation" would examine both driver and vehicle factors in Monday's accident.

It's a modern-day high-tech road warrior's worst nightmare: Your autopilot vehicle crashes your auto-piloted self into another car, or truck, or wall.

A tweet by the local firefighter's union Monday showed a photo of a Tesla Model S with its nose wedged under the back end of a fire truck and its hood badly wrinkled. But the thing was flying along at 65 miles-per-hour and the crash scared the heck out of the men and women assigned to Engine 42. Then again, we'll probably be worrying about driverless auto technology causing accidents instead. Driver explained Tesla had been set on autopilot.

In 2016, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the significant announcement that, henceforth, every Tesla would now be fitted with the hardware necessary (like cameras) to be a completely autonomous vehicle.

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According to the tweet, the driver says the vehicle was on Autopilot.

That's a point Wired Magazine makes in the wake of this most recent accident. Tesla stated that they have attempted to educate drivers that their "advanced driver assistance system" is not meant to drive the vehicle without driver intervention.

The way in which the Tesla "Autopilot" system monitored and responded to the driver's interaction with the steering wheel was not an effective method of ensuring driver engagement. It says the autopilot feature is not created to steer the vehicle around objects that might block the roadway, as autonomous technology would. It raises the question of how involved drivers will be behind the wheel when fully autonomous technology inevitably takes off. However, the human driver of the other vehicle was found to be at fault in almost every case. In other words, the system is only created to reduce the driver's workload by taking over repetitive and mundane tasks like staying in the lane and avoiding other moving cars.

"Americans are starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of self-driving vehicles", AAA Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations Director Greg Brannon said. That time hasn't come just yet, though, as a drunk driver in California recently found out.

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