Tesla Autopilot crash driver ‘was enjoying online game’

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Rescue workers attend the scene where a Tesla electric SUV crashed into a barrier on U.S. Highway 101 in Mountain View, California, 25 March.Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The driver of the Tesla Model X died shortly after the crash

An Apple worker who died after his Tesla automotive hit a concrete barrier was enjoying a online game on the time of the crash, investigators consider.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated the automotive had been driving semi-autonomously utilizing Tesla’s Autopilot software program.

Tesla instructs drivers to maintain their fingers on the wheel in Autopilot mode.

But the NTSB stated extra crashes have been foreseeable if Tesla didn’t implement adjustments to its Autopilot system.

The authority has revealed the outcomes of a two-year investigation, following the crash in March 2018.

Tesla’s Autopilot software program steered the automobile into the triangular “gore area” at a motorway intersection, and accelerated right into a concrete barrier.

Image caption The Tesla entered the gore space from Highway 101 and hit the barrier

The entrance of the Tesla separated from the rear, inflicting two different drivers to crash.

The Tesla driver, 38-year-old Walter Huang, was taken to hospital however died of his accidents. The different drivers survived.

The NTSB stated:

  • The Tesla driver had not taken management of the automotive as a result of he had been distracted by a smartphone online game
  • The Tesla’s collision avoidance system was “not designed to detect the crash [barrier]”
  • Tesla’s Autopilot system didn’t “provide an effective means of monitoring the driver’s engagement”

The use of Tesla’s Autopilot software program has been implicated in a number of crashes.

The system lets the automotive function semi-autonomously, altering lanes and adjusting its pace.

But critics say the “Autopilot” branding makes some drivers suppose the automotive is driving absolutely autonomously.

The NTSB stated the driving force had been “over-reliant” on the software program.

Tesla does instruct drivers to maintain their fingers on the wheel when utilizing Autopilot, and an audible warning sounds in the event that they fail to take action.

But the NTSB stated “monitoring of driver-applied steering wheel torque is an ineffective surrogate measure of driver engagement”.

“If Tesla does not incorporate system safeguards that limit the use of the Autopilot system to those conditions for which it was designed, continued use of the system beyond its operational design domain is foreseeable and the risk for future crashes will remain,” it stated.

Recommendations

The NTSB ended its report with a number of suggestions together with:

  • enhancing collision avoidance methods to incorporate frequent obstacles similar to visitors limitations
  • evaluating Tesla’s Autopilot to find out whether or not the power to function it “outside the intended operational design” posed an unreasonable threat to security
  • stopping automation complacency in drivers
  • requiring all new passenger automobiles with semi-autonomous options to be outfitted with a driver monitoring system that meets new requirements

It additionally prompt smartphone producers ought to develop a “distracted driving lockout mechanism” to “disable any driver-distracting functions when a vehicle is in motion but that allows the device to be used in an emergency”.

And it urged Apple to “implement a company policy that bans the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices while driving by all employees and contractors”.

The NTSB additionally discovered a impact-absorbing crash barrier hit by the Tesla had been “in a damaged and non-operational condition at the time of the collision”.

It stated the California Highway Patrol had did not report injury following a earlier crash and it was “likely” the Tesla driver would have survived the crash if the barrier had been changed.

BBC News has contacted Tesla for its response.