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US Authorities Say Tesla Autopilot is Partly to Blame for Fatal Crash

US Authorities have ascertained that Tesla’s Autopilot technology played a role in a deathly crash between a Model S car and a truck.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)  found that Tesla “lacked understanding” of some of its driver assist system’s limits. The regulatory body added that the crash should have never happened, as Tesla should have made sure that the Autopilot was not improperly used.

The accident occurred in May 2016, when Tesla driver Joshua Brown rammed into a truck while using Autopilot, and died of his injuries.(The truck driver was unscathed.)

A subsequent investigation found that Brown had kept his hands on the wheel for only 25 seconds, out of 37 minutes of driving. It was initially reported that Brown had been watching a movie when his car impacted with the truck, but the claim has not been substantiated.

“In this crash, Tesla’s system worked as designed, but it was designed to perform limited tasks in a limited range of environments,” NTSB member Christopher Hart said in a statement.

“Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed, and the system gave far more leeway to the driver to divert his attention to something other than driving.”

The NTSB has issued seven recommendations for carmakers, suggesting that they  improve the safety of cars that feature automated driving technologies by making sure these systems are only used in suitable conditions.

Tesla commented on the report in a statement: “At Tesla, the safety of our customers comes first, and one thing is very clear: Autopilot significantly increases safety, as NHTSA has found that it reduces accident rates by 40%. We appreciate the NTSB’s analysis of last year’s tragic accident and we will evaluate their recommendations as we continue to evolve our technology.”

“We will also continue to be extremely clear with current and potential customers that Autopilot is not a fully self-driving technology and drivers need to remain attentive at all times.”

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