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Tesla says Model X driver Walter Huang was responsible for fatal Autopilot crash

By Polycount ยท 31 replies
Apr 12, 2018
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  1. To say the self-driving car industry has been under a bit of scrutiny lately would be quite an understatement. Following the fatal self-driving Uber crash in March which resulted in the death of Elaine Herzberg, companies developing autonomous car tech have been walking on eggshells.

    Some companies, such as Toyota, have paused their self-driving programs while waiting for the fallout from the situation to die down. Unfortunately for the industry, that may take longer than many initially thought - yet another fatal self-driving crash occurred on March 23.

    In the tragic incident, a Tesla Model X vehicle crashed into a barrier while Autopilot was engaged, killing driver Walter Huang.

    Shortly after the crash, Tesla expressed their condolences to the Huang family as they conducted their own internal investigation.

    However, according to the company, Huang kept his hands off the wheel despite the vehicle's repeated warnings to retake control - a decision Tesla believes places the blame squarely on Huang himself rather than their Autopilot technology.

    The company has doubled down on that stance today. "The only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road," Tesla reportedly said in a statement. "The fundamental premise of both moral and legal liability is a broken promise, and there was none here."

    Tesla went on to say it is "extremely clear" that Autopilot requires a drivers' full attention at all times. The company isn't technically wrong here; Autopilot does indeed rattle off both audio and visual notifications when a driver removes their hands from the wheel. However, only time will tell if the Huang family's lawyer will accept Tesla's explanation.

    Permalink to story.

  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,393   +5,020

    Until autonomous vehicles take full responsibility, they will not be chauffeuring me around. I will not be subjected to lawsuits. All because car manufacturers don't want the lawsuits pointing at them, while you test drive the autonomous features for them.
    Reehahs, H3llion, regiq and 3 others like this.
  3. They're going to try and fight this. Tesla should release the data to the public if they do.
  4. Morphine Child

    Morphine Child TS Booster Posts: 33   +27

    Call me stupid, but what is the point of self driving car if you have to pay the same amount of attention to what is going on as if you are driving yourself?

    Even if it reaches the point where you can have it in any car, think I'll stick to driving myself, it's boring to be a passenger in your own car.
    drufense, Capaill, regiq and 3 others like this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,720   +808

    Stop f%*king calling it "auto pilot" Tesla! People's perception of that term is of a far more advanced system than what Tesla is offering. Tesla's system is more of an "enhanced driving assist mode".

    It will kill more people...
  6. Disagree. They have autopilot in aircraft. Those systems do exactly what the Tesla system does, including warning pilots when they need to take control. If a person isn't intelligent enough to use this system, they have no business operating a motor vehicle and should have their license pulled.
    merikafyeah likes this.
  7. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 180   +109

    That just means that they're also using a misnomer. "Auto" means "self" (as "on its own") and "pilot" means "piloting" (or in the case of an auto, "driving"). "Autopilot" means the vehicle can drive itself, with no help whatsoever. If it can't actually do that, then this term is a misnomer, and misleading - be it an airplane or a car.

    If Tesla says they're not at fault because their technology is not capable of driving the car on its own in the first place, then they're acknowledging that they're deceiving their customers by naming their technology to make it appear like it would be capable of something it's actually not.
    drufense, veLa and wiyosaya like this.
  8. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,892   +2,219

    I think your understanding of the word autopilot is at error here. Also, it isn't what people think it is, it's what it ACTUALLY is.

    We will not change the definition of the word autopilot to suit your understanding of it. If you don't know what it is you have no business using it
    davislane1 likes this.
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,993   +2,291

    I do not expect Tesla to take responsibility since it will open them up to lawsuits. Integrity is something they do not understand, IMO.

    According to them, the NTSB does not want them to - https://phys.org/news/2018-04-tesla-exits-probe-fatal-autopilot.html
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,393   +5,020

    You have a point to an extent. Driving on the ground is far more dangerous with less warning time. The autopilot system can not be held to the same standards of the system in the air. Autopilot on the ground needs to be more strict with less "OMG I can't handle this, take control, take control, take control".
  11. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    its not self-driving, it's simply assisted driving.Think of it like cruise control 2.0
    Morphine Child and wiyosaya like this.
  12. People who think like this are the reason the rest of us have to deal with obnoxious stickers plastered all over our power tools.

    iamcts and senketsu like this.
  13. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 180   +109

    You heard that woosh sound? It was the point I made flying right over your head.

    It was that it's actually Tesla trying to re-define the word "autopilot", which means literally "self-driving" (self-piloting). It does not mean "drive assist" or "useless technology junk that either works or doesn't". And it will never mean that, no matter how much either Tesla, or fanboys like you would want to make us believe that - of course only then, when this garbage technology has just failed fatally again.

    Because otherwise (when it wants to sell a car to you, not make up excuses why it wasn't at fault in a fatal accident) even Tesla calls Autopilot "self-driving" technology, and even shows a driver not touching the steering wheel, but letting the car drive itself: https://www.tesla.com/videos/autopilot-self-driving-hardware-neighborhood-long

    And then they want to blame their customers for believing and doing the same thing what they have not only suggested, but also plain out said/written and shown in their videos: ie. not keeping hands on the steering wheel and letting the car "drive itself". That's not only hypocrisy, but criminal deception, that should be prosecuted.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
    wiyosaya likes this.
  14. A little OT, but since it pertains to Tesla and Musk I thought the following from Phys.org was interesting.
    "the firms, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, both peg the current value of Musk's package at $3.7 billion. Tesla has yet to turn a full-year net profit even though it's been in business for 15 years."
    Which makes me wonder how he managed to get that lucrative a package! But it gets more egregious:
    "Shareholders of electric car and solar panel maker Tesla Inc. have approved an ambitious pay package for iconic CEO Elon Musk that could net him more than $50 billion if he meets lofty milestones over the next decade, according to a person briefed on the vote. Two firms that evaluate proxies for investors recommend that shareholders vote against the pay plan, which they say is unprecedented in size for a U.S. public company."
    but since I will never be buying a Tesla it's coming out of someone else's pockets
    wiyosaya likes this.
  15. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 180   +109

    But your investment or pension fund might have invested in Tesla shares, and they will get less dividend because of that. Which in turn means that they will bring a lower yield, than they'd have brought otherwise. So, that money might (partially) "come out" just from your pocket, too.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  16. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,390   +3,779

    Is anyone really surprised they blamed the driver? Musk is having enough problems in his assembly plants now; he certainly can't afford a multi-million dollar settlement ......
    wiyosaya likes this.
  17. I would bet big the family sues Tesla. Even if it ends up in a confidential out of court settlement (meaning the family gets a cheque) they will consider that a success. Even if not at fault, Tesla might do this if there is bad press because with a quick, confidential settlement, the news ends.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  18. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,892   +2,219

    You're understanding of the word autopilot is lacking. You weren't making a point, you were trying to change the meaning of the word into what you think it should mean instead of how it is already defined.
    davislane1 likes this.
  19. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,393   +5,020

    All this talk about the definition of autopilot, I decided to look it up and found there are different categories of autopilot. So in a sense both sides of the argument are void.

    It seems Tesla is a Level 2 automation, where as Level 5 is fully automated. And if you look at Level 1 you will see it explain how a cruise control works. So @Rippleman's comment about Tesla having Cruise Control 2.0 is more accurate than most would think.
  20. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,993   +2,291

    As I see it, many, believe it or not, are not savvy enough to know what it is. They hear a word that they think is cool, and they got to have it. Marketers spend their entire careers determining the buzz words that will trigger people to buy their product. Take a look at most any commercial these days, and there is almost always some trigger that the commercial is trying to pull to sell their product. The same kind of process also goes into product branding. So whatever Tesla's "auto pilot" is or is not, someone in their marketing department said, "Hey, let's call it auto pilot because it sounds cool and it will trigger people to buy our cars."
  21. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 180   +109

    You've already said that, and you've been refuted. Actually, you've been shown that it's the exact opposite of your claim that's true: ie. that it's you and Tesla who are trying to redefine a word, which has a very strict and obvious meaning.

    What you're doing is pointless: Repeating the same false statement over and over won't make it any less false. It will however make you appear stupid and fanboyish.
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,003

    Well, as I see it, if you going to have something called, "auto-pilot", then it should be fully autonomous driving, or nothing.

    The more tasks you take away from the driver, the more likely that driver is to become inattentive, or even fall asleep.

    "Auto-pilot", from an aeronautical perspective has three basic tasks, maintain compass heading, maintain airspeed, and maintain altitude.

    From that standpoint, an aircraft's automatic flight controls actually have much less to do that would an automobile's, since there are not really any red lights or pedestrians at 30,000 feet or so. Of course, there is collision detection and avoidance involved. That said, a great part of that is accomplished in conjunction with air traffic control, which assigns all flight parameters, with an eye on not having aircraft come into contact.

    The only parameter of commercial aviation which even remotely resembles a highway situation, is in the landing approach protocols, which place aircraft at or near the same altitude and heading, in a roughly squared circle around the airport.

    As for Tesla's "Auto-Pilot", what did anyone think Tesla and Musk would say other than, "it was completely the driver's fault"? That's Musk's standard, predictable, response, "it was the other guy", when anything goes wrong. If a rocket blows up on the pad, "somebody shot at it from miles away". If he loses a 1/2 billion dollar satellite, he says, "our rocket didn't do anything wrong"

    If somebody drills one of his crap Teslas, then it's the driver's fault. Never mind that some crap a** over hyped and ability lacking feature lulled a customer into a false sense of security, it's still the damned stupid customer's fault. .
  23. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,694   +438

    This. Also funny how people used to say we will have flying cars. This is a pure example why it just wouldn't work, even if tech was there.
    davislane1 likes this.
  24. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 894   +497

    My 2 cents is that Tesla needs to drop the "autopilot" references as it's open to interpretation. Not everyone who buys a car is tech savvy. Heck, many don't even read the manual. If they saw anything, official or otherwise, that suggests they can take their hands off the wheel and the car will drive itself, they'll do it and happily sue everyone else when they get into a crash. Renaming the feature to "assisted driving" as has been suggested would be a big improvement.
    A car should not say it has an autopilot mode until it has reached a level of technology where you can turn it on and go for a sleep in the back seat.
    wiyosaya likes this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,720   +808

    Aircraft pilots get considerably more training than those who take some lame drivers education class, take some ridiculously simple test, and get a "drivers license' from the DMV. Aircraft pilots know that "autopilot" isn't really an automatic pilot. The term itself is technically incorrect but I stand by my original statement that peoples perception of autopilot is that it's capabilities are considerably more than they really are. Unfortunately it is not the case.
    wiyosaya likes this.

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