NTSB: Autopilot was in use before Tesla hit semitrailer

Posted Thursday, 16 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

DETROIT — A Tesla Model S involved in a fatal crash with a semitrailer in Florida March 1 was operating on the company's semi-autonomous Autopilot system, federal investigators have determined. The car drove beneath the trailer, killing the driver, in a crash that is strikingly similar to one that happened on the other side of Florida in 2016 that also involved use of Autopilot. In both cases, neither the driver nor the Autopilot system stopped for the trailers, and the roofs of the cars were sheared off. The crash, which remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, raises questions about the effectiveness of Autopilot, which uses cameras, long-range radar and computers to detect objects in front of the cars to avoid collisions. The system also can keep a car in its lane, change lanes and navigate freeway interchanges. Tesla has maintained that the system is designed only to assist drivers, who must pay attention at all times and be ready to intervene. In a preliminary report on the March 1 crash, the NTSB said that preliminary data and video from the Tesla show that the driver turned on Autopilot about 10 seconds before the crash on a divided highway with turn lanes in the median. From less than eight seconds until the time of the crash, the driver's hands were not detected on the steering wheel, the NTSB report stated. "Neither the preliminary data nor the videos indicate that the driver or the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist System) executed evasive maneuvers," the report stated. The Model 3 was going 68 miles per hour when it hit the trailer on U.S. 441, and the speed limit was 55 mph, the report said. Jeremy Beren Banner, 50, was killed. Tesla said in a statement Thursday that Banner did not use Autopilot at any other time during the drive before the crash. Vehicle logs show that he took his hands off the steering wheel immediately after activating Autopilot, the statement said. Tesla also said it's saddened by the crash and that drivers have traveled more than 1 billion miles while using Autopilot. "When used properly by an attentive driver who is prepared to take control at all times, drivers supported by Autopilot are safer than those operating without assistance," the company said. The circumstances of the Delray Beach crash are much like one that occurred in May 2016 near Gainesville, Florida. Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was traveling in a Tesla Model S on a divided highway and using the Autopilot system when he was killed. Neither Brown nor the car braked for a tractor-trailer, which had turned left in front of the Tesla and was crossing its path. Brown's Tesla also went beneath the trailer and its roof was sheared off. After that crash Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company made changes in its system so radar would play more of a role in detecting objects. David Friedman, who was acting head of NHTSA in 2014 and is now vice president of advocacy for Consumer Reports, said he was surprised the agency didn't declare Autopilot defective after the Gainesville crash and seek a recall. The Delray Beach crash, he said, reinforces that Autopilot is being allowed to operate in situations that it cannot handle safely. "Their system cannot literally see the broad side of an 18-wheeler on the highway," Friedman said. Tesla's system was too slow to warn the driver to pay attention, unlike systems that Consumer Reports has tested from General Motors and other companies, Friedman said. GM's Super Cruise driver assist system only operates on divided highways with no median turn lanes, he said. Tesla needs a better system to more quickly detect whether drivers are paying attention and warn them if they are not, Friedman said. "Tesla has for too long been using human drivers as guinea pigs. This is tragically what happens," he said. To force a recall, NHTSA must do an investigation and show that the way a vehicle is designed is outside of industry standards. "There are multiple systems out on the roads right now that take over some level of steering and speed control, but there's only one of them that we keep hearing about where people are dying or getting into crashes. That kind of stands out," he said. The Delray Beach crash also casts doubt on Musk's statement that Tesla will have fully self-driving vehicles on the roads sometime next year. Musk said last month that Tesla had developed a powerful computer that could use artificial intelligence to safely navigate the roads with the same camera and radar sensors that are now on Tesla cars. "Show me the data," Friedman said. "Tesla is long on big claims and short on proof. They're literally showing how not to do it by rushing technology out."

Other articles published by Las Vegas Sun

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

If any NHL fan base could have seen this coming, it might have been the local one. The St. Louis Blues swept the Vegas Golden Knights this season, showing signs of greatness long before they pulled themselves out of the league’s dregs to dance to the...

Trump has trampled on American ideals all along Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

America is living through a constitutional crisis — and it didn’t start when President Donald Trump announced that his administration would stonewall all congressional subpoenas and try to thwart the legislature’s oversight efforts. The U.S....

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

A judge shouldn't tip the scales as dozens of businesses that lost bids to open marijuana dispensaries push to freeze new licenses in Nevada's booming cannabis market, an attorney for the state argued Friday. Companies that didn't win the licenses are...

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

A Reno doctor is among eight suspects indicted Friday on allegations that they conspired to illegally distribute prescription opioids, according to the office of the U.S. attorney for Nevada. The eight suspects were charged with conspiracy to possess...

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Henderson isn’t just the fastest-growing city in Southern Nevada, it’s also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Henderson from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018, was the nation’s 12th-quickest growing city ...

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Liz Cambage doesn’t happen quietly. The 6-foot-8 center is not only one of the best and most physically dominant basketball players in the world, she’s also got a big personality. “One of a kind,” is how she describes her mix of charisma, charm...

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

CARSON CITY — With a little over a week left in the Legislature, lawmakers crossed the second house deadline Friday in a marathon session lasting on-and-off from the early afternoon until late into the night. Many of the bills that had made it to the...

Reid is a force for America Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

In the May 15 letter “Reid deserves our gratitude” the writer correctly recognized that all Americans, and especially Nevadans, should praise former Sen. Harry Reid as a “good man who is still trying to help our country.” As a resident of Las...

Women deserve body autonomy Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Since when does a group of strange men take it upon themselves to tell a woman what to do with her own body? The ridiculous law signed recently in Alabama limits medical attention a woman can receive and insists on the addition of a baby to a family that ...

Executive branch goes overboard Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Attorney General William Barr recently told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that he was not required to comply with a congressional subpoena because “there was no legitimate legislative purpose” to justify the subpoena. In essence, these two...

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Some people are inducted into a hall of fame for their greatness on the baseball diamond or the football field or for creating incredible music. Richard Knoeppel got in by inspiring and mentoring and guiding the next generation of Las Vegans. Knoeppel,...

Congress is abandoning its duty to legislate Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi declared recently that our nation faces a “constitutional crisis.” She may be right, but not for the reasons she claims. Congress’ near total abandonment of its core legislative responsibilities poses far more of a ...

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin judge on Friday ordered Anheuser-Busch to stop suggesting in advertising that MillerCoors' light beers contain corn syrup, wading into a fight between two beer giants that are losing market share to small independent brewers....

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

DES MOINES, Iowa — How to pronounce Beto O'Rourke's first name — "Is it BET-oh or BAY-toe?" — is debated nearly everywhere the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful goes in Iowa. But Rich Salas doesn't hesitate. "BET-oh," the chief diversity officer ...

Posted Saturday, 25 May 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Kicking off a Memorial Day weekend operation, troopers on Friday had handed out 274 tickets in the Intestate 15 corridor between Nevada and California, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol. Most of the citations — given out between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m....