A Tesla vehicle involved in a deadly collision with a truck in Florida was on autopilot, a federal investigation determined.
The Model 3 was under the truck and its driver died in the accident on March 1st. It was an amazingly similar event to another incident that occurred on the other coast of Florida in 2016 when the car was also driven autonomously.
In both cases, neither the driver nor the Autopilot system braked in front of the truck, and in both cases the vehicles lost their roof.
The event in Delray Beach, which is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), raises doubts about the effectiveness of autopilot, which uses cameras, radars and computers to detect nearby objects and elude them. The system also allows the vehicle to stay in its lane, change lanes and maneuver platforms between roads.
Tesla insists that the system was created merely to assist the driver, who must be alert at all times and ready to intervene.
In a preliminary report on the March 1 event, the NTSB stated that the videos and vehicle data show that the driver applied the autopilot about 10 seconds before the impact. In the eight seconds before the accident, the driver’s hands were not detected on the steering wheel, according to the NTSB.
Neither the videos nor the electronic data show that there was any attempt to stop the vehicle when the truck approached, the report says.
The Model 3 was going at 68 miles per hour when it hit the truck on Highway 441 where the speed limit was 55 miles per hour, the document says. The driver Jeremy Beren Banner, 50, lost his life.
On Thursday, Tesla issued a statement saying that Banner did not use the autopilot at any other time on that trip. The data shows that he took his hands off the wheel immediately after activating Autopilot, the statement said.