Many Tesla Autopilot probes, but little action


The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

“This is NTSB crying out for NHTSA to do something, and it seems to be availing itself of the only real mechanism it has to do that, which is to publish detailed reports that lead technical experts to understand what is rather obvious: Which is that there’s a problem here,” – Jason Levine, Executive Director, The Center for Auto Safety

“When the agency with the lead responsibility is clearly doing nothing, why should the others step out of their general jurisdictional lanes to support efforts that aren’t actually moving?” – Jason Levine, Executive Director, The Center for Auto Safety

Feb 16, 2020
by Pete Bigelow

On a typical weekday, Walter Huang usually woke around 7 a.m., made breakfast for his family, then dropped his son and daughter off at their schools before driving to work.

On his typical commute, he sometimes had trouble with the Autopilot driver-assist system in his Tesla Model X, always at the same Silicon Valley location.

Huang complained to family and friends that his car veered toward a concrete barrier on multiple occasions at a specific location along southbound U.S. 101. Data analyzed by crash investigators verified that at least one of these incidents occurred four days before his Model X swerved into the concrete barrier and claimed Huang’s life.
Details about the March 23, 2018, crash in Mountain View, Calif., were contained in a trove of documents released last week by the National Transportation Safety Board, which has examined the case and others like it. Huang’s case is the fourth investigation the NTSB has undertaken in recent years involving Autopilot. It’s unusual for the agency to expend such efforts probing a single technology, especially given the likelihood that findings will echo those from previous crash investigations involving Autopilot, resulting in the same recommendations.

Why might the NTSB conduct more investigations merely to reiterate what it has already said? Maybe because that’s all it can do.

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