Tesla’s Autopilot Fatally Doesn’t See Another Truck

A Tesla Model 3 was on Autopilot when involved in a fatal crash that is almost a carbon copy of the system’s first fatality three years ago.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that the latest crash, which took place in Florida in March, saw the Model 3 go under a truck’s trailer, shearing the roof off (NTSB picture above) and killing the driver, 50-year-old Jeremy Beren Banner, before and coming to a halt 1,600ft away. Autopilot, which the driver had engaged approximately 10 seconds before the car went under the truck, did not try to stop or otherwise attempt evasive maneuvers. The vehicle also did not detect the driver’s hands on the steering wheel less than 8 seconds before the crash and the driver also did not attempt to stop the car or any evasive maneuvers.

This is the fourth time a Tesla with Autopilot engaged has been involved in a fatal accident, but the first time a Model 3, the newest model Tesla has produced, has been involved. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that a “lack of safeguards” contributed to the crash, although the report is preliminary and more findings will be released at a later date.

This is eerily similar to the first crash involving a Tesla and Autopilot, in which fellow Florida man Joshua Brown died after his Tesla Model S collided with a semi trailer truck in May 2016, becoming the first person to die at the wheel of a semi-autonomous car. He also did not attempt to stop the vehicle and Autopilot’s cameras did not notice the white truck because the “brightly lit sky” and the fact that, at the time, the cars radar tuned out what looked like an “overhead road sign to avoid false braking events” according to a tweet by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

In a statement, the carmaker said: “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. For the past three quarters we have released quarterly safety data directly from our vehicles which demonstrates that.”

Tesla has stressed before that, even with Autopilot engaged, the driver is ultimately responsible for the vehicle’s actions. When activated the vehicle explicitly states that is “an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times”.

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