Tesla Model 3 Autopilot was active before deadly collision, federal investigators say | TribLIVE.com

Tesla Model 3 Autopilot was active before deadly collision, federal investigators say

A 2018 Tesla 3 had its roof sheared off March 1 after a Wellington-area man drove the vehicle under a tractor-trailer in suburban Delray Beach, Fla. Jeremy Beren Banner, 50, was killed.

Tesla’s Autopilot system was active in a Model 3 that collided with a tractor-trailer during a fatal crash in March, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The crash in Delray Beach, Fla., that killed the Tesla driver is at least the third deadly collision in the United States involving the company’s advanced driver-assistance features, adding to questions about the safety of the technology and how drivers rely on it.

“Preliminary data from the vehicle show that the Tesla’s Autopilot system-an advanced driver assistance system that provides both longitudinal and lateral control over vehicle motion-was active at the time of the crash,” NTSB said in a preliminary report. The Autopilot system was turned on about 10 seconds before the crash, the report said, and the vehicle did not detect the driver’s hands on the steering wheel during the final seconds before the collision.

Tesla’s Autopilot is a driver-assistance system designed to keep vehicles at speed, maintain a safe distance from traffic and follow road markings; it enables vehicles to steer, accelerate and brake. But Tesla says that its autopilot features require “active driver supervision” with their hands on the wheel and that the system is not autonomous.

The posted speed limit on the highway where the crash took place was 55 mph, the NTSB said. But vehicle data showed the Tesla was traveling about 70 mph when it hit the semitrailer. The report found that neither the driver nor the autopilot system made evasive maneuvers to avoid the crash.

In a statement, Tesla said the driver “immediately removed his hands from the wheel,” after engaging the Autopilot. “We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy,” the company said. The driver was Jeremy Banner, 50.

“Tesla drivers have logged more than one billion miles with Autopilot engaged, and our data shows that, 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 latest crash report comes as Tesla continues to develop its driver-assistance system and as chief executive Elon Musk sets ambitious goals for the company’s self-driving capabilities. During investor presentations at the company’s “Autonomy Day” last month, Musk said a network of autonomous Tesla taxis will be able to shuttle passengers by the end of next year. Musk also envisions the production of Tesla vehicles without steering wheels within the next two years.

But some critics say that autopilot technology can give drivers a false sense of security, and that boosterism surrounding autonomous vehicles is setting the industry up for failure.

One family whose relative was killed in a Tesla crash in 2018 is suing to hold the company responsible. The loved ones of Walter Huang, a 38-year-old Apple engineer, who died driving his Tesla Model X SUV in Mountain View, Calif., filed a lawsuit against Tesla alleging wrongful death and negligence stemming from failures and false promises tied to its driver-assistance system.

Another Tesla driver who had Autopilot engaged died in a crash in May 2016, when his Model S slammed into a semitrailer in Williston, Fla.

Categories: Business | Technology
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.