Friday, July 8, 2016

NHTSA probing Tesla’s autopilot mode after two crashes.

ABC News (7/7, Perlow, 4.15M) reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a preliminary investigation into Tesla’s automated system following the death of Joshua Brown, who was driving his Tesla Model S in autopilot mode when both the car and driver failed to notice a tractor-trailer crossing two lanes of traffic in an intersection, careening the Tesla underneath the trailer. Prior to the crash, Telsa CEO Elon Musk told Bloomberg, “We’re going to be quite clear with customers that the responsibility remains with the driver,” adding, “we’re not asserting that the car is capable of driving in the absence of driver oversight.” The company is calling Brown’s death a “tragic loss.”

        The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (7/7, Moore, 533K) reports another investigation is underway for second crash involving Tesla’s autopilot mode. The accident occurred July 1 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when a man driving his Tesla Model X in self-driving mode rolled the SUV after crashing into barriers on both sides of the highway; both the driver and passenger survived the crash. This investigation comes on the heels of the May 7 Florida crash that killed Joshua Brown. “Over-reliance creates more risks in using this technology,” said David L. Strickland, a former NHTSA administrator who is leading the newly formed Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. This group includes Google, Uber, Lyft, Ford, and Volvo, who are all pushing for favorable rules for the technology ahead of the NHTSA’s expected release of undated guidelines for self-driving cars. Mr. Strickland also said, “My member companies and every automaker that’s working on full self-driving technology is absolutely, positively working hard to ensure that when this technology is placed in the hands of consumers, that it is going to operate at the highest level of safety.” 

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