Tesla Driver Said Autopilot Veered towards Obstacle Several Times
Apple engineer Walter Huang told family members that his Tesla autopilot appeared to lurch toward a road barrier on his daily commute despite his frequent corrections, according to the National Transporation Safety Board (NTSB) report released two years after his death in a horrific crash into the road barrier. The report also details the death of a Tesla driver in Delray Beach, FL whose autopilot caused his death when it ran into a tractor-trailer.
“The Mountain View accident occurred when a 2017 Tesla Model X P100D electric-powered passenger vehicle operated with advanced driver assistance features – a feature Tesla calls ‘autopilot’ – departed the southbound travel lanes of Highway 101 and struck a previously damaged crash attenuator. The driver, the sole occupant of the vehicle, was fatally injured in the crash,” the 500-page report read.
A story on futurism.com quoted several sources, including a Washington Post story, outlining how Huang had complained several times to family members about the glitch. He had the autopilot engaged and was talking on his iPhone when the Tesla struck the barrier at 71 mph.
A U.S. News & World Report story noted that he’d discussed with a “friend how a patch to the Autopilot software affected its performance and made the Model X veer,” according to an attorney for his family.
Tesla released a safety report on its vehicles in response to the NTSB press release. The company also responded to questions by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) in December, explaining that customers who use Autopilot are less likely to crash, but had warned against drivers taking their hands off of the steering wheel while using it, according to the Washington Post story.
According to a story on bloomberg.com, “Tesla’s array of sensors can usually keep the car within its travel lane and brake if the vehicle ahead slows, but the technology isn’t suited to detect some stationary objects in the roadway.”
The NTSB plans a hearing on the Mountain View crash on Feb. 25 to report on the cause of the crash and make safety recommendations.
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