Tesla Motors Inc ’s Model S crash that resulted in death has raised concerns within the industry over the viability of the autopilot system. The auto industry is concerned that the accident will slow down the introduction of new tech, which has the potential to save people’s lives. The car crash also sparked an investigation by the NHTSA.
Tesla crash – raises doubts over Autopilot
The death of a driver in a Tesla Model S, which reportedly was using the Autopilot function, is still rippling through the car industry as it raises concerns about how quickly should it adopt self-driving technology, and how it should be designed. The car crash, which is the first known fatality linked to the automated technology, has caused various car makers to rethink the way they will present self-driving tech to the consumers.
Tesla Motors Inc acknowledged that a driver of one of its Model S cars operating in Autopilot mode died when the semi-autonomous system failed to detect a tractor-trailer turning in front of the electric sedan.
Drivers do not trust self-driving functions
On Monday, at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, the implications of the fatal crash popped up. The Center for Automotive Research organized the industry conference, which brings together hundreds of industry analysts and top executives.
Gareth Williams – director of advanced development for Mitsubishi Electric – said, “the recent publicity that we’ve mentioned a few times this afternoon with the recent Tesla autopilot fatality has really opened the dialogue in the industry.”
A survey of customers shows that the car industry must design automated systems that drivers can trust and makes them feel comfortable, however, today’s systems are not good enough, said William. He added that the consumers who test-drove current cars with self-driving functions were not satisfied. “An overwhelming majority, 91%, felt that the lane keeping feature could not center the vehicle in the lane. Only 9% trusted that feature,” Williams said.
NHTSA Level 4 – is a long way away?
Both the auto industry regulators and executives believe that the evolution towards automated cars will reduce traffic fatalities and improve safety. But, making it certain to the driver exactly what the technology of the car can and cannot do is one of the trickiest problems. Four levels of self-driving vehicles are outlined by NHTSA, and only at Level 4 a driver can completely turn all control over to the car.
Tesla Motors Inc autopilot feature is regarded as Level 2 technology, and while it is engaged, the driver must remain engaged with the car. Brian Daugherty – chief technology officer for the Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association – said he thinks NHTSA’s Level 4 is a long way away.
Everyone in the car industry knew the first fatality connected to a car with self-driving technology would cause a stir, said Kirk Steudle – director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. The car crash raises significant issues, but Steudle said they have got to “put it in context.” “That same day there were 95 other fatalities…and every day since then there have been 95 more fatalities,” Steudle said.