NHTSA Releases Findings from Autopilot Investigation

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The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently released its full report on last year’s fatal accident in which a Tesla, with its Autopilot system activated, crashed into a tractor trailer, killing the driver. The cause of this accident has been attributed to both faulty emergency breaking systems and a failure of the sensor to detect the trailer, prompting the NHTSA to believe that the Autopilot system might “not function as designed,” according to the report.

However, the report ended up finding plenty to praise about the system. It notes that, in addition to a 40% decrease in crash rates involving Tesla cars since the introduction of Autopilot, there was no evidence of defects in design or implementation of Tesla’s Autopilot cruise features or its automatic emergency braking systems. What’s more, the report also concluded that Tesla did properly anticipate driver misuse of its semi-autonomous system, and finalized the design accordingly.

Still, the NHTSA did identify a caveat in that Tesla should take a more active role in informing users about Autopilot’s limitations. Nevertheless, the investigation was closed without a cause for recall, and if anything greatly boosted Tesla’s credibility. The May 7 accident remains the only recorded fatality from Autopilot use.