Tesla’s Autopilot System Played Role in Fatal Florida Crash

Tesla (TLSA) shares were barely changed in recent pre-market trade after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined Tuesday that a truck driver’s failure to yield the right of way and a car driver’s inattention due to over-reliance on vehicle automation were the probable cause of the fatal May 7 crash near Williston, Florida.

The NTSB said it also determined that the operational design of the Tesla’s vehicle automation permitted the car driver’s over-reliance on the automation, noting its design allowed prolonged disengagement from the driving task and enabled the driver to use it in ways inconsistent with manufacturer guidance and warnings.

“Smart people around the world are hard at work to automate driving, but systems available to consumers today, like Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ system, are designed to assist drivers with specific tasks in limited environments,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “These systems require the driver to pay attention all the time and to be able to take over immediately when something goes wrong. System safeguards, that should have prevented the Tesla’s driver from using the car’s automation system on certain roadways, were lacking and the combined effects of human error and the lack of sufficient system safeguards resulted in a fatal collision that should not have happened.”

The NTSB said that the way in which the “Tesla Autopilot system monitored and responded to the driver’s interaction with the steering wheel was not an effective method of ensuring driver engagement,” adding that the car maker made design changes following he crash.

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