Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assistance system and a driver who relied too heavily on it are likely to blame for a 2018 crash in California in which the driver died, a federal safety agency said on Tuesday, The New York Times reported.
The agency, the National Transportation Safety Board, criticized several institutions for failing to do more to prevent the crash, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for what some board members described as a hands-off approach to regulating automated-vehicle technology.
“We urge Tesla to continue to work on improving Autopilot technology and for NHTSA to fulfill its oversight responsibility to ensure that corrective action is taken when necessary,” said Robert L. Sumwalt, the board’s chairman.
“It’s time to stop enabling drivers in any partially automated vehicle to pretend that they have driverless cars,” Sumwalt added.
The board adopted a number of staff findings and recommendations from an investigation into the crash that began more than six months ago. The findings included the determination that Autopilot failed to keep the driver’s vehicle in the lane, that its collision-avoidance software failed to detect a highway barrier and that the driver was probably distracted by a game on his phone.
The board also determined that the driver, Wei Huang, most likely would have survived had the California Transportation Department fixed the barrier he hit, which was designed to absorb some of the impact of a collision but was damaged during a previous crash, the Times added.
Sumwalt also said Tesla had not responded to two recommendations the safety board made to the electric-car company and five other automakers in 2017. The board told the companies to limit use of automated systems to the conditions for which they were designed and to better monitor drivers to make sure they remain focused on the road and have their hands on the wheel.