Investigators-Self Driving Tesla ‘Overwhelmed’ in Fatal Crash
The pursuit and refinement continues when it comes to self-driving vehicles (see the movie Demolition Man), but a new report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is not going to make consumers feel any better about them. at least not right now.
Sources, including KQED-TV in California, published this week information from the NTSB report into the March 23, 2018 crash which killed an Apple Engineer on US Highway 101 near Mountain View, CA.
The report read in part the crash of the SUV was because ; it (The SUV) was operating under conditions it couldn't handle and because the driver likely was distracted by playing a game on his smartphone.; (KQED)
Although shocking, the crash, say experts, will yield important keys to improving self-driving vehicles. A total of 9 recommendations have been sent to tech manufacturers to help prevent future crashes of the partially self-driving vehicles. They say partially, because the person behind the wheel can still take control, or let the 'car' do the work.
Probably the biggest recommendation is to design systems that will not allow cellphones, tablets or other digital 'distraction' devices to operate in such vehicles-unless under emergency conditions.
Another recommendation, specifically for Tesla, is to install safeguards to prevent it's Autopilot driving system from operating in conditions (heavy challenging traffic) it wasn't designed to navigate. Apparently, according to the NTSB, the Autopilot system became overwhelmed, causing the SUV to crash head on into the end of a concrete barrier, fatally injuring the engineer/driver on board.
The NTSB study showed the Tesla veered abruptly off the road before hitting the barrier. It's believed faded lane lines, bright sunshine and a vehicle in front at very close distance confused it's cameras and detection system. The autobrake system did not work, and no warnings were given to the driver. Data also shows he took no evasive action such as braking or grabbing the steering wheel, likely because he was distracted, playing a video game on his phone.