Autopilot, Distracted Driving At Fault In Fatal 2018 Tesla Crash

Tesla

Just because autonomous driving is here, obviously doesn’t mean it’s perfected. We’ve seen countless autopilot accidents and unfortunately, some of them are deadly.

A fatal accident that occurred in 2018 has been investigated by The National Transportation Safety Board which said that Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system was one of the probable causes. The board also ruled that the driver was playing a mobile game while using Autopilot before the crash.

While those were the two main factors, the NTSB investigators also named a number of other contributing factors, including the crash attenuator in front of the barrier that was damaged and had not been repaired by California’s transportation department. Had the crash attenuator been replaced, it’s reported that the driver, Walter Huang, likely would have survived.

One of the team’s findings was that the crash was made possible, in part, because of the limits of Autopilot’s vision-based processing system. However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long argued that autonomous cars don’t need LIDAR, so Autopilot is designed around a system of cameras, as well as ultrasonic sensors and a forward-facing radar.

Investigators also found that the Model X’s forward-collision warning system didn’t alert Huang to the coming impact. The vehicle didn’t even slow down. The NTSB said Tesla had not designed these emergency systems to handle a situation like this. Investigators say Huang was playing a mobile game prior to the crash and said that was “likely” the reason why he didn’t try to turn away from the barrier.