The Delray Beach 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 driver engaged the Autopilot about 10 seconds before the collision".
Whether the driver's hands were on the steering wheel or not is irrelevant at this point, because the data shows that neither he nor the auto made evasive maneuvers. Jeremy Beren Banner, 50, was killed.
Tesla needs a better system to more quickly detect whether drivers are paying attention and warn them if they are not, Friedman said, adding that some owners tend to rely on the system too much.
The vehicle was traveling at about 68 miles (109 km) per hour (mph) on a highway with a 55-mph (89-kph) speed limit, and neither the system nor the driver made any evasive maneuvers, the agency said.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said the tractor trailer pulled into the path of the Tesla, and the Tesla's roof was sheared off as it passed underneath the semi.
Tesla's response: The company says its cars have driven over one billion miles with autopilot activated.
The NTSB said its investigation is ongoing. The final Highway Accident Report from the NTSB for that incident found that "The Tesla's automated vehicle control system was not created to, and did not, identify the truck crossing the car's path or recognize the impending crash".
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NTSB noted in its final 2017 report into the 2016 crash that the driver was over reliant on Tesla's Autopilot, which was also engaged when it crashed.
Tesla said it was the only time during the journey that Autopilot had been activated.
Four months after the May 2016 crash, which killed former Navy SEAL Joshua Brown, Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk held a call with reporters to discuss a new version of the Autopilot software.
"We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy", Tesla said in an emailed statement.
The NTSB's preliminary report said the driver engaged Autopilot about 10 seconds before crashing into a semitrailer, and the system did not detect the driver's hands on the wheel for fewer than eight seconds before the crash. A spokesperson told the Register that autopilot makes journeys safer when "used properly by an attentive driver who is prepared to take control at all times". The automaker should have restricted use of the driver-assistance system to interstate-like highways, the NTSB said in its findings. As a result, Tesla shorted the time Autopilot issues a warning alert when the driver's hands are off the wheel.
Autopilot was also engaged when Apple engineer Wei "Walter" Huang crashed his Model X into a road barrier and died.