Federal investigators said Monday they were able to glean some insights into what might have happened after a fire erupted from a Tesla crash that killed two people in the Houston area in April and destroyed the vehicle's data recorder. . The National Transportation Safety Board released preliminary findings from its probe into the crash, which raised speculation about whether the vehicle's partially self-driving system, Autopilot, was to blame. The speculation stemmed from local authorities saying they were nearly positive that no one was behind the wheel when the vehicle crashed. The NTSB, in its preliminary report, said video footage from the vehicle owner's home security system showed him getting behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S and then slowly exiting the driveway. The vehicle traveled about 550 feet "before departing the road on a curve, driving over the curb, and hitting a drainage culvert, a raised manhole and a tree," according to the NTSB.
US automakers have outlined principles designed to encourage drivers to pay attention to the road while driving partially automated vehicles as political scrutiny of the technology intensifies following a series of fatal crashes. The proposals, published yesterday before a Senate subcommittee hearing on the future of automotive safety and technology, come days after two men using Tesla's Autopilot driver-assist system were killed in a crash near Houston. Executives with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, which represents at least 20 automakers including General Motors, Ford and Toyota, proposed that vehicles with auto-driving systems should include driver monitoring as standard equipment. Those systems could include cameras to make sure drivers are paying attention, and that those systems should be designed so they cannot be "disengaged or disabled". If drivers don't pay attention, car features should issue warnings or take corrective action such as disengaging the automated systems.
At some point in the near future--how near depends on who you ask--autonomous vehicles (AVs) will become a common sight on the roads. Without the need for a driver or human input, AVs, which are also known as self-driving cars, will require sensors and computers working together to read the road and surrounding environment. Most of the advanced driver aids in the wild today use a combination of radar and sonar to deliver warnings on unseen threats and to help stop a vehicle before a collision occurs. Lidar is a technology that can perform similar functions to radar and sonar, but it's a next-generation system that may represent the best option for AVs' ability to "see." As automakers and other companies move through testing and real-world drives, it has become clear that next-generation sensors and tech offer intriguing functionality but are not the silver bullet that many thought they'd be at first.
So much happened in the auto industry this month it can't fit in one column; I whittled it down to the things that interested me. There is a lot of variety by topic -- from Auto Shanghai to a new operating system to an interesting DARPA story to the European Union proposal for AI use regulation. These ten stories are summarized in the following table. Auto Shanghai Auto Shanghai is among the world's largest auto shows and is the first auto show to be held after the pandemic. The attendance is expected to reach about 1 million people and around 1,000 exhibitors.
Tesla's Autopilot system can "easily" be used to drive the automaker's vehicles without anyone behind the wheel, Consumer Reports said in a new demonstration. The magazine conducted the study on a test track after a widely publicized Tesla Model S crash in Texas on Saturday when two people were killed in a wreck that sparked an hours-long blaze. Local authorities said it appeared no one was in the driver's seat. The National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have opened investigations into the incident. Tesla's Autopilot system enables automatic steering, accelerating and braking on roads with lanes, but it does not work in all situations.
One of the victims killed in last week's Tesla car crash in Texas, which police suspect to have involved the vehicle's autopilot mode, was William Varner, a 58-year-old anaesthesiologist, his employer said. In the incident on Saturday, two men were killed after their 2019 Tesla Model S, travelling at a high speed, failed to negotiate a curve and crashed into a tree, catching fire, police reports noted. According to the police, one of the victims was found in the passenger seat and the other in the back seat, while nobody was at the driving seat at the time of impact, raising doubts on the involvement of the car's autopilot mode. However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Monday saying that data logs retrieved from the crashed car by the company ruled out the use of the autopilot system. "Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled ... Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have," he tweeted.
BERKELEY, California – The fatal crash of a Tesla with no one apparently behind the wheel has cast a new light on the safety of semiautonomous vehicles and the nebulous U.S. regulatory terrain they navigate. Police in Harris County, Texas, said a Tesla Model S smashed into a tree on Saturday at high speed after failing to negotiate a bend and burst into flames, killing one occupant found in the front passenger seat and the owner in the back seat. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted on Monday that preliminary data downloaded by Tesla indicate the vehicle was not operating on Autopilot, and was not part of the automaker's "Full Self-Driving" (FSD) system. Tesla's Autopilot and FSD, as well as the growing number of similar semi-autonomous driving functions in cars made by other automakers, present a challenge to officials responsible for motor vehicle and highway safety. U.S. federal road safety authority, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has yet to issue specific regulations or performance standards for semi-autonomous systems such as Autopilot, or fully autonomous vehicles (AVs).
Police in Texas investigating a Tesla car crash in which two men died will serve search warrants on the company to ascertain if the vehicle's autopilot mode was engaged at the time of the incident. However Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, has said the self-driving feature was not being used, based on an internal probe by the company. In the incident, two men, both in their 50s, were killed after their 2019 Tesla Model S crashed into a tree and caught fire. According to police reports, the car was travelling at a high speed and failed to negotiate a curve in the road. Texas police noted that nobody was at the driving seat at the time of impact, raising doubts about the involvement of the car's autopilot mode.
This "S-Class of EVs" is the first full-electric car from Mercedes to come to the US, combining a low drag coefficient with a large battery pack for a range of 478 miles, using Europe's WLTP estimate. Tesla, Porsche and Audi already have electric luxury sedans, but this looks like an interesting and extremely classy competitor. Roberto Baldwin is ready to walk us through the features and its futuristic interior, which includes a biometric sensor for logging in with voice or fingerprint. There's no word on how much it will cost, and we haven't taken it on the road yet, but I'm already digging its unique taillights and fastback hatch. It's barely been a month since DJI unveiled a new drone, and the company already has another to show.
The state of autonomous vehicle safety standard regulation in the US today is between two presidential administrations, with the Trump Administration-era regulations issued Jan. 14 likely to be soon superseded by policies of the Biden Administration. The Trump Administration rules would allow self-driving vehicle manufacturers to skip certain federal crash safety requirements in vehicles not designed to carry people, marking the first major update to federal safety standards to accommodate innovations of driverless technology, according to an account in The Detroit News.This would apply for example to the delivery vehicle from startup Nuro, which has no driver or passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated the rule would save automakers and consumers $5.8 billion in 2050. "With more than 90% of serious crashes caused by driver error, it's vital that we remove unnecessary barriers to technology that could help save lives," stated then NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. On Jan. 25, Steve Cliff, deputy executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, was named deputy administrator of the NHTSA. Ariel Wolf, counsel to the Self-Driving Coalition, said of the Jan. 14 announcement that the NHTSA rule was a "highly significant" development in safety rules for self-driving vehicles.