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Thursday, January 19, 2017

NHTSA Investigation Closed: Tesla’s Crash Rate Dropped Almost 40 Percent After Autopilot was Installed, Feds Say

As reported by The VergeThe federal investigation into the fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S in Autopilot mode has ended, with no vehicle recalls being ordered, according to Reuters.
Further, Tesla’s crash rate dropped 40 percent after the electric carmaker installed its semi-autonomous Autopilot software, government regulators reported.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just released its report on the May 2016 fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S. Within the document, the government reports that the number of crashes dropped dramatically after Tesla introduced Autopilot in 2015, a fact that would seem to bolster the company’s claims about the safety of semi-autonomous features in its vehicles.
NHTSA analyzed all mileage and airbag deployment data supplied by Tesla for all 2014 through 2016 Model S and 2016 Model X vehicles equipped with Autopilot. The data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation.
The government concluded that while advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) like Autopilot may help in reducing auto accidents, they should not supplement or replace a driver’s attention to the road. “While ADAS technologies are continually improving in performance in larger percentages of crash types, a driver should never wait for automatic braking to occur when a collision threat is perceived,” the NHTSA said.

Joshua Brown, 40, was killed in central Florida on May 7th, 2016 when his Model S slammed into a tractor trailer at a highway intersection. Tesla said the car’s sensor system, against a bright spring sky, failed to distinguish a large white 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the highway. In a tweet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the time that the vehicle's radar "tunes out what looks like an overhead road sign to avoid false braking events."
The truck driver, meanwhile, claimed that Brown may have been watching a Harry Potter movie at the time of the accident, and the Florida highway patrol told Reuters that there was a portable DVD player in the vehicle.

Further details about the conclusions of the investigation are still unclear. A spokesperson for the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which had been investigating the crash for over six months, did not immediately respond to questions. NHTSA plans to hold a briefing at 12PM ET to discuss its findings.