The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded their investigation into the death of a Tesla driver who collided with a tractor-trailer. While the accident is tragic, NHTSA investigated to see if the fault was with the Autopilot system, and force a recall, or if the blame could be placed elsewhere. Today, Tesla was exonerated.
According to our friends over at Roadshow, the Autopilot system worked as designed, even if it didn’t apply the brakes to avoid the accident. According to the report, neither did the driver.
The really important tidbit of information that was shared on Twitter by Phil LeBeau said that the driver had 7 whole seconds where he could have seen and responded to the truck before the impact.
Key finding in Tesla Autopilot Probe: Driver in fatal crash had 7 seconds where he could have seen and reacted to truck he eventually hit.
— Phil LeBeau (@Lebeaucarnews) January 19, 2017
That’s… a lot of time. Tesla never claimed that their Autopilot system meant that you could play Pokémon Go and not pay attention while driving, but rather use the system as an aide. It appears in this case, had the driver been paying some attention he would’ve been able to take over and stop the car, likely saving his life.
Will this ruling open the door for other manufacturers to work faster on deploying semi-autonomous and fully-autonomous solutions? We shall see.