Brainless Tesla driver crashes, dies while car in Autopilot mode

http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2016/06/30/teslas-autopilot-tied- fatal-crash-nhtsa-investigates/86570046/
Tesla Motors acknowledged today that a driver of one of its Model S cars
operating in Autopilot mode died when the semi-autonomous system failed to detect a tractor-trailer turning in front of the luxury electric car.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun a preliminary investigation of the fatal accident that occurred May 7 in Williston, Fla.
The case illustrates the experimental nature of autonomous vehicle technology that has attracted billions of dollars of investment from the auto and technology industries.
"This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated," states a post on Tesla's corporate website. "Among all vehicles in the U.S., there is a fatality every 94 million miles. Worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles. It is important to emphasize that the NHTSA action is simply a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations."
The post continues in substantial detail to describe the incident.
"Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S."
In a statement, NHTSA said the beginning of a preliminary investigation "should not be construed as a finding that" the agency "believes there is either a presence or absence of a defect in the subject vehicles."
Tesla's Autopilot enables the vehicle to drive itself under most highway circumstances, but there are situations where drivers must be prepared to reclaim control. It is not clear whether the driver was alerted in this particular case.
General Motors is working on a system called Super Cruise that it previously said would be introduced next year to give the Cadillac CT6 "hands-free" driving, but the driver must remain engaged.
Earlier this month there was an incident in Irvine, Calif., where the owner of a brand new Tesla Model X, also equipped with Autopilot, accelerated from a parking space and crashed into a commercial building. The owner and Tesla disputed whether Autopilot specifically caused the unintended acceleration.
The message on Tesla's website reflects legal advice about the limits of Autopilot's capability.
"It is important to note that Tesla disables Autopilot by default and requires explicit acknowledgement that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase before it can be enabled.
"When drivers activate Autopilot, the acknowledgment box explains, among other things, that Autopilot is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times, and that you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle while using it."
Some say the accident shows Tesla's novel self-driving feature isn't ready for prime time.
"Tesla might want to consider a voluntary recall or stop sale on its vehicles equipped with the Autopilot feature," says Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader, in a statement. "Self-driving vehicles hold much promise for improving road safety, but more work is needed with the technology, regulations and consumer confidence, which could be shaken by accidents like this.?
Contact Greg Gardner: (313) 222-8762 or snipped-for-privacy@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregGardner12
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On Fri, 1 Jul 2016 20:41:48 +0000 (UTC), "Leroy N. Soetoro"

My car has the adaptive cruise control. It really works well and I can follow another car for miles with speed changes, braking, and never have to touch the pedals.
The sensor though, is mounted on the front grill. It is aimed in such a way as to sense a car in front of me. A trailer though, has a large high opening on the side of it. I wonder if the sensor read right part the trailer by going under it and though, hey road is clear, lets keep going. It will be interesting to see the final outcome.
Oh, the manual also does describe how the sensor will not read on a curve if the lead vehicles is off the centerline of you when it hits the curve first. I've sensed that and the car would go off as if there was nothing ahead, but then pick up once you are directly behind it again.
In any case, you still have to look out the window and pay attention.
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On 7/1/2016 4:41 PM, Leroy N. Soetoro wrote:

The tractor-trailer driver stated that when he got to the car, he heard a Harry Potter movie playing but did not see it. Tesla stated it was impossible to play a movie on the cars screen, however police recovered a portable DVD player from the car. If this guy was so enamored with the technology that he felt he could keep his hands on the wheel and do everything that the car required except keep his eyes on the road and instead on a DVD movie, then he deserves a Darwin Award...sorry - don't care if he was a former Navy Seal. A person can be smart, but people can be stupid - I fear for the day that this tech is in most cars and people are going to be bypassing the saftey in it so they can put on their make-up, talk on the phone, watch TV, and just expect the car to let them know something is wrong. Not sure I want to be out there on the road with that. Typical tech that is supposed to aid us and help us do something, and people get so lazy that they just want it to take over....I swear we are headed to the fat blobs being moved around by chairs as was depicted in my kids Disney movie "Wall-e"....
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Here is another. http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/consumer-reports-tesla-drop-autopilot-40573624 Earlier this week Tesla disclosed that a Model X SUV crashed early Saturday in Montana while the driver was using the autosteer feature on a two-lane road, which is not recommended by the company. Tesla, which gets information from its cars over the internet, said the car warned the driver at least once to place his hands on the steering wheel before it crashed.
I do fault Tesla for part of this. If the software knows to tell you to not use the function is can also have the capability to just back off the throttle and stop the car if you don't take manual control. My Genesis Lane Keep Assist will go off auto if you take your hands off too long.
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