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NTSB launches investigation into Tesla and autopilot system following fatal crash

By William Gayde · 5 replies
Mar 29, 2018
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  1. Following a fatal crash last Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board has announced an investigation into Tesla and its autopilot system. The crash occurred in Mountain View, California and involved a Model X. The NTSB will be examining the post-crash fire as well as possible steps to make the vehicles safer for removal from the scene of the incident.

    It is currently unclear if the autopilot system was active in the moments before the crash and since the crash was so severe, Tesla has so far been unable to recover the data logs from the vehicle. Tesla released a statement about the incident and blames the severity on the absence of functioning crash attenuators. These large metal devices crumple up on impact and help absorb much of the energy in a crash. The attenuator at the spot of the crash had either been removed or crushed previously without replacement.

    Tesla's data show that since their autopilot system was introduced, Tesla vehicles have driven past this exact stretch of road roughly 85,000 times with no accidents. High voltage battery systems like the ones that power all Tesla vehicles are inherently dangerous and prone to fires in crashes. Because of this, Tesla has designed them to slow the spread of such a fire. They estimate that traditional gas powered vehicles are five times more likely to catch fire.

    Tesla's stock is down double digits this week following the news. Moody's has downgraded Tesla's credit and bond rating as well as putting a negative outlook on the company.

    Photo credit Dean Smith - ABC7 San Francisco 

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2018
  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,880   +3,315

    It's obvious that none of these is yet "perfect" and as time goes on there will be the occasional flaw in programing that can be corrected. Not unlike the first automobiles, there is a learning curve. I wonder out loud if any of these systems has any kind of "automatic default" that stops the car when anomalies are detected? I would also like to see a tally of how many accidents, deaths, etc per operating hour/mile vs. the same for human controlled vehicles.
    Reehahs, cliffordcooley and stewi0001 like this.
  3. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,309   +1,323

    Very true... but we don't even know if it was driving autonomously.... For all we know, this was just a driver who fell asleep at the wheel or was otherwise inattentive.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  4. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,139   +1,402

    Good to mention - the downgrade is why their stock is down. Not the crash. Yet the stock price going down is mentioned in the by-line of story even though the crash and the stock price dropping are barely related.

    Very misleading.
  5. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon Banned Posts: 545   +362

    Any and every "autopilot" system will be prone to failures. Roads simply introduce too many variables for this rough tech to handle, even with modern processing power. For the same reason multiplayer games have moved towards human opponents instead of bots (Unreal Tourney, Quake Arena) - Artificial Stupids simply can't keep up.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  6. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,431   +1,824

    From Tesla, I absolutely expect them to blame the crash attenuator. Musk at his best.

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