The era of Tesla receiving accolades for its innovative vehicles like the Tesla Cybertruck seems to be over as the automaker is under scrutiny over the reliability of its autopilot program. Investigations carried out by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on a fatal crash involving a Tesla vehicle using its autopilot system have revealed damaging information about the American company.
The driver playing games on his phone does not exonerate Tesla from the crash
The crash in question involved a Tesla 2018 Model X which was being driven by a car owner identified as Walter Huang. Huang, an Engineer, was said to have been driving the electrical vehicle on autopilot while immersed in a video game he was playing on his mobile phone. He had so much confidence in the accuracy of the autopilot, hence, he was intentionally distracted. His car hit a barrier on the highway, leading to a fatal crash.
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Speaking about the incident, Vice Chairman of the NTSB, Bruce Landberg, said that the vehicle’s Autosteer, a feature meant to ensure that the vehicle does not go out of its lane, was inadequate. Landberg’s remark is presumably based on the outcome of the fatal crash. If the Autosteer was adequate, Huang’s vehicle would have remained on its lane, far away from the highway barrier.
In Tesla’s defense, the company clearly states that drivers are expected to be present and alert even when they have engaged the autopilot system on the road. But the counter-argument is that not many drivers will heed to that directive. If it is so effective, why do they need to be alert?
These investigative findings have dealt a heavy blow on Tesla’s crusade for autonomous driving. The company’s CEO Elon Musk would have to work overtime to fix this.
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