Tesla's Model 3 autopilot mode was activated seconds before a fatal crash

Location of Telsa crash

The very first (or second, depending on how you count it) fatal crash while using Autopilot occurred under what sounds like, at least for now with our very limited amount of information, similar circumstances.

We should point out that this information from the NTSB is only preliminary at this point in time.

"Neither the preliminary data nor the videos indicate that the driver or the ADAS executed evasive maneuvers", investigators wrote.

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office previously named the driver as Jeremy Beren Banner, 50, according to local news channel WPTV.

The driver was found to have used Autopilot for 37 minutes but only had his hands on the wheel for 25 seconds. The vehicle was traveling around 68 miles per hour at the time, 13 miles per hour above the speed limit in the area. The rate for drivers when Autopilot was not engaged was one accident for every 1.76 million miles driven. In that instance, a semi-truck was turning onto a Florida highway, and the driver of the Tesla struck the side of the trailer and died.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating the Delray Beach and said Thursday it is "carefully evaluating all available data and will share any findings upon conclusion of its investigation".

NTSB noted in its final 2017 report into the 2016 crash that the driver was over reliant on Tesla's Autopilot, which was also engaged when it crashed.

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Years of research show that it's nearly impossible for drivers to always leap into action in an emergency if their car is automating the main driving tasks, such as steering and speed control, said Kelly Funkhouser, program manager for automated and connected vehicles at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center.

While some Tesla drivers say they are able to avoid holding the steering wheel for extended periods while using Autopilot, Tesla advises drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and pay attention while using the system.

It also said the way Autopilot monitored and responded to driver interaction with the wheel "was not an effective method of ensuring driver engagement". As a result, Tesla shorted the time Autopilot issues a warning alert when the driver's hands are off the wheel.

In a statement Thursday, Tesla said it was saddened by the crash and that drivers have traveled more than one billion miles while using Autopilot.

Preliminary data from the vehicle show that the Tesla's Autopilot system-an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that provides both longitudinal and lateral control over vehicle motion-was active at the time of the crash.1 The driver engaged the Autopilot about 10 seconds before the collision.

"For the past three quarters we have released quarterly safety data directly from our vehicles which demonstrates that", asserted the automaker. The agency said that Tesla told Model S owners that Autopilot should be used only on limited-access highways, primarily interstates.

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