NTSB fatal crash report criticizes Tesla for not restricting Autopilot on Model 3 to conditions for which it was designed

At some point in the future, our vehicles will be able to drive us to where we want to go. We are not there yet.

Images of actual scene moments before the crash – Released by NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board published its final report for its investigation of the fatal March 1, 2019, crash of a Tesla in Delray Beach, Florida.


Tesla informed the NTSB that the installed forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems on the Model 3 Tesla in the Delray Beach crash were not designed to activate for crossing traffic or to prevent crashes at high speeds and therefore, according to Tesla, the “Autopilot” vision system did not consistently detect and track the truck as an object or threat as it crossed the path of the car.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the fatal crash to be the truck driver’s failure to yield the right of way to the car, combined with the car driver’s inattention due to overreliance on automation, which resulted in the car driver’s failure to react to the presence of the truck. Contributing to the crash was the operational design of Tesla’s partial automation system, which permitted disengagement by the driver, and the company’s failure to limit the use of the system to the conditions for which it was designed. The failure of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop a method of verifying manufacturers’ incorporation of acceptable system safeguards for vehicles with Level 2 automation further contributed to the crash.

“The Delray Beach investigation marks the third, fatal, vehicle crash we have investigated where a driver’s overreliance on Tesla’s “Autopilot” and the operational design of Tesla’s “Autopilot” have led to tragic consequences,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “In the Mountain View crash, that overreliance was coupled with the equally deadly menace of distraction, demonstrating the insidious nature of the threat and the lack of policy and technology to eliminate it,” said Sumwalt. […]

More » Autoblog, Engadget, Electrek, Associated Press, CNET