Tesla Autopilot design combined with driver inattention caused crash, NTSB says – gpgmail


The National Transportation Safety Board said driver inattention coupled with the design of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system Autopilot and an over reliance on feature were behind the January 2018 crash of a Model S into a parked fire truck on a highway in Southern California.
The NTSB filed Wednesday the report a day after issuing a preliminary brief that provided important details about the incident, including that the Model S was in Autopilot mode when it crashed into the fire truck.

The crash, involving a 2014 Tesla Model S, occurred January 22, 2018 in Culver City, Calif. The Tesla had Autopilot engaged for nearly 14 minutes when it struck a fire truck that was parked on Interstate 405. The driver was not injured in the crash and the fire truck was unoccupied.

Autopilot includes two important features, Autosteer and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control. Autosteer is a lane-keeping assist system that can only be engaged after Traffic-Aware Cruise Control is activated. The Traffic-Aware Cruise Control is an adaptive cruise control system that modifies speed based on information from the camera and radar sensors.

According to NTSB, the Model S had Autopilot engaged and was in the HOV lane following another car.

In the 15 seconds prior to the crash the system detected and followed two different lead vehicles. Data shows that 3 to 4 seconds before the crash, the lead vehicle changed lanes to the right, the NTSB report says. When the Traffic-Aware Cruise Control no longer detected the lead vehicle, the system accelerated the Tesla from about 21 mph toward the preset cruise speed of 80 mph, which had been set by the driver about 5 minutes before the crash, the report says.

The “Autopilot” system detected a stationary object in the Tesla’s path about 0.49 seconds before the crash and the forward collision warning activated, displaying a visual warning and sounding an auditory warning. By the moment of impact, the Tesla had accelerated to 30.9 mph.

Autopilot was engaged in the final 13 minutes and 48 seconds of the trip and yet, the system detected driver-applied steering wheel torque for only 51 seconds of that time, the NTSB said.

While, the Tesla Model S owner’s manual contains numerous warnings about the limitations of these features and the need for drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, the driver was not paying attention, the NTSB said. More importantly, the Tesla’s Autopilot design permitted the driver to disengage from the driving task, the NTSB concluded.


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Tesla Autopilot was engaged before 2018 California crash, NTSB finds – gpgmail


A Tesla Model S was in Autopilot mode —the company’s advanced driver assistance system — when it crashed into a fire truck in Southern California last year, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Reuters was the first to the report on the contents of the public documents. A final accident brief, including NTSB’s determination of probable cause, is scheduled to be published Wednesday.

The crash, involving a 2014 Tesla Model S, occurred Jan. 22, 2018 in Culver City, Calif.  The Tesla had Autopilot engaged for nearly 14 minutes when it struck a fire truck that was parked on Interstate 405. The driver was not injured in the crash and the fire truck was unoccupied.

Tesla has not commented on the report. gpgmail will update if the company provides a statement.

The report found that the driver’s hands were not on the wheel for the vast majority of that time despite receiving numerous alerts. Autopilot was engaged in the final 13 minutes and 48 seconds of the trip and the system detected driver-applied steering wheel torque for only 51 seconds of that time, the NTSB said. Other findings include:

  • The system presented a visual alert regarding hands-off operation of the Autopilot on 4 separate occasions.
  • The system presented a first level auditory warning on one occasion; it occurred following the first visual alert.
  • The longest period during which the system did not detect driver-applied steering wheel torque was 3 minutes and 41 seconds.

In the 2018 crash into a fire truck, the vehicle was operating a “Hardware Version 1” and a firmware version that had been installed via an over-the-air software update on December 28, 2017. The technology provided a number of convenience and safety features, including forward, lane departure and side collision warnings and automatic emergency braking as well as its adaptive cruise control and so-called Autosteer features, which when used together

While the report didn’t find any evidence that the driver was texting or calling in the moments leading up to the crash, a witness told investigators that he was looking down at what appear to be a smartphone. It’s possible that the driver was holding a coffee or bagel at the time of the crash, the report said.

Autopilot has come under scrutiny by the NTSB, notably a 2016 fatal crash in Florida and a more recent one involving a Walter Huang, who died after his Model X crashed into a highway median in California. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also opened an inquiry into the 2016 fatal crash and ultimately found no defects in the Autopilot system. NTSB determined the 2016 fatal crash was caused by a combination of factors that included limitations of the system.

The family of Huang filed in May 2019 a lawsuit against Tesla and the State of California Department of Transportation. The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court, County of Santa Clara, alleges that errors by Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system caused the crash.




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Nissan Develops Self-Steering Golf Ball for ‘Stress-Free’ Perfect Putts


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Nissan is finding new uses for its ProPilot Assist self-driving technology. Right nows, it’s ramping up for the September debut of the Nissan Skyline, the Skyline being, effectively, the Infiniti Q50 in the US. And so Nissan-Infiniti developed the ProPilot golf ball with self-guiding technology embedded. Seriously. On the green, you putt the ball more or less in the direction of the hole, and it finds the way.

The intelligent golf ball also makes use of a camera in a drone overhead that tracks the ball’s progress and issues corrections to an internal motor that can change the ball’s path of progress. Cars don’t have drones to track their progress, but they do have cameras in the car, sometimes also radar, lidar, and sonar, to make sure the car stays on-course and reacts to potential hazards.

Innards of Nissan’s ProPilot golf ball. Try not to lose it in a water hazard.

Nissan explains ProPilot and the ProPilot golf ball this way:

Similar to the Skyline’s ProPilot 2.0 advanced technology, the ProPilot golf ball supports golfers by following a predefined route to its goal. Players can feel confident that they will reach their target effortlessly on each putt. Using technology influenced by Nissan Intelligent Mobility – the company’s vision for how cars are powered, driven and integrated into society – the ball navigates its way across the green and into the cup on the first putt, providing a stress-free golf experience.

An overhead camera detects the position of the ball and cup. When the ball is hit, a monitoring system calculates the correct route based on the ball’s movement and adjusts its trajectory. Combining sensing technology with an internal electric motor, the ProPilot golf ball stays on route until reaching the cup – making even novice golfers, of all ages, feel like pros.

Imagine what the Nissan golf ball could have done for Rodney Dangerfield’s game in Caddyshack (1980), still one of the finest sports movies ever. Also, the source of one of the finest pieces bits of golf advice, from Al Czervik (Dangerfield) to a slow-playing partner: “Let’s go — while we’re young.” (Photo: Warner Home Video)

Nissan’s ProPilot 2.0 driver assistance technology will be part of the Skyline. Nissan says ProPilot 2.0 is “designed for on-ramp to off-ramp (ramp-to-ramp) highway driving … [and] engages with the vehicle’s navigation system to help maneuver the car according to a predefined route on designated roadways. The system is the first in the world to combine this with hands-off driving capability while cruising in a single lane.”

This would put the Skyline at the high end of Level 2 autonomy, which other automakers have reached as well: Audi Traffic Jam Assist, BMW Personal CoPilot, Cadillac Super Cruise, Ford CoPilot Assist+, Tesla Autopilot, and Volvo Pilot Assist, among others. The next step, Level 3, allows hands-off driving and the car, not the driver, is responsible for monitoring the world around him or her. But the driver must be able to take over on short notice. It’s not clear if Nissan will target Level 2 or Level 3 driving.

Some say the path to full autonomy (any time, any place, any weather) may skip Level 3. The difference between L3 and L4 is that L3 requires the driver to resume driving on short notice, short notice not being clear as to whether that’s in two seconds or half a minute.

Here’s a Nissan video of a four-year-old making short work of the green with the Nissan ProPilot ball.

Inspiration comes from many sources, and vice-versa. The NASA space program of the 1960s made the Tang artificially flavored orange drink a household name. Now Nissan is finding new uses for its Intelligent Mobility self-driving and self-parking, including the self-correcting golf ball. Combine the two and you have an Apollo 14 astronaut hitting a golf ball a mile, more or less, on the reduced-gravity, zero-wind-resistance Moon in 1971.

Nissan has found other uses for its vision and driver-assistance systems including the Intelligent Parking Chair, in the video below. Now all we need is a robot that picks up the juice bottles, coffee cups, and pizza boxes after a staff lunch.

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