Questions raised over Tesla's actions following autopilot-related fatal crash

By midian182 ยท 32 replies
Jul 6, 2016
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  1. Last week, it was reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had launched a “preliminary investigation” into an accident involving a Tesla Model S that resulted in the death of Joshua Brown.

    The vehicle was traveling in autopilot mode at the time of the crash, which took place in Florida on May 7. Tesla waited nine days before informing the NHTSA, but the incident didn’t become public knowledge until news of the agency’s investigation surfaced.

    On Monday, Fortune published an article noting that Tesla and Elon Musk sold $2 billion worth of Tesla stock just 11 days after the accident, all without releasing any information about the crash. The publication argues that, as the autopilot was involved, the incident was “material” enough to warrant informing shareholders.

    “To put things baldly, Tesla and Musk did not disclose the very material fact that a man had died while using an auto-pilot technology that Tesla had marketed vigorously as safe and important to its customers,” wrote Carol J. Loomis.

    Musk hit back at the claims, sending an email to Loomis that stated: “Please, take 5 mins and do the bloody math before you write an article that misleads the public.” The CEO went on to claim that Tesla’s autopilot feature could save hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide if it were available to everyone.

    “Indeed, if anyone bothered to do the math (obviously, you did not) they would realize that of the over 1M auto deaths per year worldwide, approximately half a million people would have been saved if the Tesla autopilot was universally available.”

    Never one to shy away from letting his feelings known, Musk responded to a Tweet from Fortune editor Alan Murray.

    When asked why the company didn’t disclose the incident ahead of the share sale, Tesla gave the following statement to Reuters.

    Tesla does not find it necessary, nor does any automaker, to share the details of every accident that occur in a Tesla vehicle. More than a million people die globally every year in car accidents, but automakers do not disclose each of these accidents to investors, let alone before those investigations are complete and without regard to what the results of those investigations end up being.

    Musk also pointed out that, while tragic, the death is the first known fatality to occur while the autopilot was engaged, even though drivers have covered a total of 130 million miles while using the feature.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,894   +2,049

    Has it been determined that the crash was 100% the fault of the auto-pilot? Until then I'd hold judgement if I were the stockholders. We know that certain people treat the auto-pilot feature like a self driving system when it's only made to assist the driver.
  3. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 733   +246

    How would it be 100% the fault of the autopilot exactly?! Did the autopilot system turn into skynet and restrain the drivers arms and legs so he could not steer or brake?

    It was 100% the drivers fault for watching harry potter on a mobile dvd player and not looking at the road.
    Reehahs likes this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,480   +601

    Then perhaps it should be renamed to Driver Assist Mode. Auto pilot implies it takes care of everything, automatically. Now I don't have a Tesla manual in front of me, and I'm sure there are plenty of warnings but the name seems rather misleading if it is intended to be used as an assistant.
  5. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,894   +2,049

    So now we have to rename everything to be literal because people don't want to read the manual or listen to the salesperson. The name of a product is not a valid excuse for ignoring what you are told and what's in the manual.
  6. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,894   +2,049

    I think you misread my post, completely. I was raising the question of whether they had concluded one way or that other. I made no conclusions.
  7. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,593   +1,741

    I gotta say I'm mostly on musk's side here. The investigation was not complete and without all the information they could potentially misinform people about what actually happened. One top of that, autonomous cars have proven themselves to be safer regular drivers. This whole thing is silly, it's sillier than the backlash against T-Mobile for their "binge on" feature.
  8. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 5,198   +4,302

    Proper way to do this, size permitting...

    Close position --> Short momentary price drop --> Buy back --> Get back in to the upside somewhere near demand --> Buy new Porsche.
    Raoul Duke likes this.
  9. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,240   +768

    Is the autopilot in a Tesla any different than autopilot in an airliner?
  10. bmw95

    bmw95 TS Maniac Posts: 205   +176

    Tesla Autopilot = scapegoat for people with crappy driving skills.
  11. CloudCatcher

    CloudCatcher TS Member

    I sure hope so, the Autopilots in commercial airliners have two qualified professionals monitoring/managing/misusing them, and still end up inadvertently killing people every year...
  12. d4fseeker

    d4fseeker TS Rookie

    The name is perfectly correct. Autopilot systems in e.g. aircrafts still need (a lot) of human intervention and cannot react properly to the most basic issues. Eg on large aircrafts the autopilot _will_ land the plane on the green if the gps map is wrong such as is th case on airports in f.ex. Africa
    Reehahs likes this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,480   +601

    That's why I said perhaps... not everyone reads the manual like they should. I think features should have a literal name though, otherwise it could be considered false advertising. Which, unfortunately there is plenty of.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,480   +601

    Are there any airline pilots out there? I believe aircraft autopilot simply performs the specified altitude, speed, and heading. It is up to the pilot to make sure the aircraft is going where it is supposed to be.

    The auto pilot feature in the Telsa as far as I'm aware navigates the roads completely autonomously using a computer program and sensors. Apparently it has lidar and/or radar, which you would think should detect any large object moving into the vehicles path. If it does have this tech, either it wasn't designed to detect a vehicle this type of scenario, or it didn't work properly. That is what the investigation is for.

    I'm just wondering exactly how this feature works... they [Tesla] sure touts it as a huge selling point. I also wonder what the manual says.

    I'm sure some searching could provide some of these answers, but there are those here familiar with the subject matter.
  15. ManuelV

    ManuelV TS Booster Posts: 110   +52

    Well, if you are sit in the driver seat and dont look what is happening on the road while the car is driving, or are ready for something to happen, it should be renamed to brain assist mode for those people.
  16. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,894   +2,049

    Go watch the movie "The invention of lying" then you'll get a good idea of how boring the world would be with only literal advertising. Heck, advertising and literal shouldn't even be in the same sentence.

    Not everyone reads the manual but everyone is responsible for knowing what's in it. If you really can't spend the time to read it they should call up tesla or their salesperson and ask for a summary at the very least. I'm sure the company knows the major points to tell the customer.
  17. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,645   +405

    He looks like a used car sales man in that suit.
  18. Badvok

    Badvok TS Maniac Posts: 238   +104

    Totally not. The blame actually falls on the lorry driver who crossed the highway. The only fault with the Tesla auto-pilot was that it didn't react to avert the accident. Nor did the driver who obviously skipped over/ignored the "Always keep your hands on the wheel. Be prepared to take over at any time." warning that the car blurts out every time the system is engaged.
  19. CloudCatcher

    CloudCatcher TS Member

    Airline Autopilots have a number of modes that can be selected, from basic speed/heading/altitude modes, to climb or descend and navigation radio tracking modes and even fully automatic nav modes where they fly a pre-programmed vertical and lateral profile. What they can not do however, is react to unforseen or not pre-programmed circumstances, which is where the "autopilots" is cars seem to be designed with a different goal in mind.
  20. DaveBG

    DaveBG TS Maniac Posts: 349   +117

    How about the fact that the ***** driver was watching a Harry Potter movie on a portable DVD player (I was shocked these still exists too) ? I blame the drive 100%.
  21. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 733   +246

    I saw your post, the easy answer is there is no way it could be the one or the other. There is just one choice, its the same argument as whether or not a gun manufacturer is responsible for murder with the guns it makes. It's the users fault unless the gun goes off on its own with no one touching it.
    Same with the autopilot, if it took over the controls and steered the car off a cliff or into oncoming traffic against the drivers will there would be grounds for the question.
  22. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,894   +2,049

    My post was about not being able to make that determination. You can't say who's at fault because the full details haven't come to light.
  23. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 733   +246

    He drove straight into the broadside of a trailer crossing the road in front of him at full speed while watching a portable DVD player.
    Did not apply the brakes.
    Did not steer out of the way.
    Did absolutely nothing.

    I can't even think of a more straight forward scenario where there is literally no possibility that it was the car's fault.
  24. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,894   +2,049

    Allot of this is your assumption. They only know that a harry potter movie was still playing shortly after the crash. If that's what you think is evidence I feel bad for whoever you "judge" on jury duty. At least the prosecutor knows they have an easy guilty verdict with you on the Jury.
  25. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 733   +246

    It's fact:

    So if what I'm saying doesn't sound right, how about giving a reasonable argument as to why the autopilot was at fault or caused the crash in such a way that the alert driver could not have avoided it.

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