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Autopilot in use before Tesla hit semi

18 May 2019

Tesla's website describes Autopilot as an "advanced driver system" that enhances safety with external cameras, sensors and a radar but demands a "fully attentive driver" at all times.

Thursday's report from the NTSB is an early, bare-bones recounting of its understanding of the basic facts of the crash.

After reviewing vehicle data and surveillance video footage, the NTSB found that neither Autopilot nor the driver attempted to avoid crashing into the truck. "Neither the preliminary data nor the videos indicate that the driver or [Autopilot] executed evasive maneuvers".

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Jeremy Beren Banner, 50, was killed when his Tesla collided with a semitrailer on March 1. Two seconds after that, the system registered that the driver's hands weren't on the wheel and they didn't register as being back on the wheel before the crash. Preliminary vehicle data show that the Tesla was traveling about 68 miles per hour when it struck the semitrailer.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said the tractor trailer pulled into the path of the Tesla, and the Tesla's roof was sheared off as it passed underneath the semi.

The Tesla continued southbound on 441 for about 1,600 feet (500m) after impact. According to the report, the truck was crossing the highway from a side road when the Model 3 struck the side of the trailer, shearing off the roof and killing the Tesla driver.

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NTSB noted in its final 2017 report into the 2016 crash that the driver was over reliant on Tesla's Autopilot, which was also engaged when it crashed.

"We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy", Tesla said in an emailed statement. Among many other conclusions, it said: "The way that the Tesla Autopilot system monitored and responded to the driver's interaction with the steering wheel was not an effective method of ensuring driver engagement". This isn't the first documented crash that involved active use of Autopilot, and while it's easy to point fingers at the system or at Tesla, these incidents are much more complicated.

On 23 March 2019, a Tesla Model X crashed into a roadside barrier and caught fire while on Autopilot, which also resulted in the death of the driver.

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The driver was killed when the auto slammed into the side of a semi-truck that was crossing a highway in Delray Beach, the NTSB said in a preliminary report released Thursday. One report, issued after another fatal accident in Florida, said, "Contributing to the auto driver's overreliance on the vehicle automation was its operational design, which permitted his prolonged disengagement from the driving task and his use of the automation in ways inconsistent with guidance and warnings from the manufacturer". "For the past three quarters we have released quarterly safety data directly from our vehicles which demonstrates that". The agency said that Tesla told Model S owners that Autopilot should be used only on limited-access highways, primarily interstates.

Autopilot in use before Tesla hit semi