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NTSB Opens Investigation into Recent Tesla Crash With Firetruck

NTSB Opens Investigation into Recent Tesla Crash With Firetruck”

A tweet by the local firefighter's union Monday showed a photo of a Tesla Model S with its nose wedged under the back end of a fire truck and its hood badly wrinkled. The company said it has taken steps to educate drivers about the need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and be prepared to take over from Autopilot, which it calls an "advanced driver assistance system" that is not meant to turn the vehicle into an autonomous auto. "Amazingly there were no injuries".

The good thing about the Californian EVs is that they at least provide excellent crash safety to their gullible drivers whenever they mistakingly overestimate the car's self-driving capabilities. If this was a case of the driver sticking on Autopilot, and forgetting their responsibility to watch the road ahead it wouldn't be the first time. The problem with Autopilot is that it can lend a false sense of security to drivers.

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Car-makers suggest self-drive technologies should make the roads safer, but at present California requires a driver to remain behind the wheel so they can retake control at short notice. While evidence revealed the Tesla driver was not attentive to the driving task, investigators could not determine from available evidence the reason for his inattention. The driver said the Tesla had been set on autopilot. If the driver never responds, the vehicle will gradually slow down until it stops and the flashing hazard lights will come on. Since then, Tesla has also updated its "autopilot" system.

The Tesla driver's pattern of use of the Autopilot system indicated an over-reliance on the automation and a lack of understanding of the system limitations. The investigation following the crash concluded, in part, that Tesla didn't have sufficient safeguards to ensure driver attention while using autopilot.

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For now, Tesla's software is still in what's classified by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a "Level 2 automated system".

The driver had a blood alcohol content almost double the legal limit and a tenuous relationship with consciousness when his auto slammed into the back of a parked firetruck on San Francisco's Bay Bridge. Previously, the NTSB linked Tesla's autopilot function to a in Florida in 2016 where a Model S driver died when his vehicle slid underneath a semi-trailer. It appears Tesla may still have some work to do in educating its customers about the limitations of autopilot, or implementing further controls to prevent drivers from misusing it.

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