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Tesla asked to brief U.S. Senate panel on fatal Florida crash

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Lanny, Jul 14, 2016.

  1. Lanny

    Lanny @Lanny

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    Inquiry prompted after tragic death of driver using Tesla’s autopilot mode

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, seeks answers from Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer at Tesla Motors, following the recent death of a driver while using the autopilot mode on a Tesla Model S. The autopilot feature allows the vehicle to automatically steer, change lanes, and manage speed.

    In Sen. Thune’s letter to Musk, he seeks to determine whether the technology performed as intended and Tesla’s actions to educate consumers on the benefits and limitations of the technology. Thune requests answers from Musk no later than July 29, 2016.

    The full text of the letter is below:

    Dear Mr. Musk:

    I write to you today regarding the recent news of a fatal crash involving a Tesla vehicle. I seek information regarding the actions Tesla Motors has taken thus far, as well as future actions planned in response to this accident. In particular, I am interested in the company’s efforts to ensure the Autopilot technology was deployed safely in this instance. In addition, given the potential of vehicle safety technologies to decrease traffic accidents and fatalities, I am also interested in Tesla’s work to educate customers on the use, benefits, and limitations of the technology.

    According to reports, on May 7, 2016, the driver of a Tesla Model S was killed when his vehicle impacted the bottom side of a tractor trailer. The Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature, a driver assistance feature that allows the vehicle to automatically steer, change lanes, and manage speed, was enabled at the time of this tragic accident. The brake was not applied because, according to public statements attributed to Tesla, neither the Autopilot nor the driver “noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky.” The driver in this unfortunate incident, a former Navy SEAL, represents the first known fatality in which Autopilot was engaged. While investigations are still ongoing, questions remain as to whether the technology performed as intended and whether this tragic accident could have been avoided. On June 28, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a preliminary evaluation to examine the “design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash.” Specifically, NHTSA is evaluating the use of automatic emergency braking functionality on the vehicle.

    As Committee Chairman, I generally support the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology for its potential to improve safety and mobility. Preliminary data recently released by NHTSA show that approximately 35,200 people died on American roads in 2015, a substantial increase from 2014. More than ninety percent of these tragedies are linked to human error, including driver intoxication and distraction. Technological advancements have the potential to reduce that number significantly. Therefore, it is essential to use lessons learned from this incident to improve safety technologies, ensure they perform as advertised, and make certain that consumers are properly educated about their use.

    Earlier this year, at our Committee hearing on the future of self-driving cars, automobile industry representatives and self-driving technology innovators acknowledged that, while hurdles exist for the deployment of self-driving vehicles, driver assistance and autonomous technologies offer significant safety benefits. Some witnesses encouraged a sole focus on fully self-driving cars, while others advocated for an evolution of driver assistance systems, such as Autopilot, that can provide immediate safety benefits and gradually help consumers become more comfortable with the concept of a fully self-driving car. In either case, research is needed on the interactions between the operator and vehicle at different levels of autonomy to ensure consumers are able to respond to the technology appropriately. In order to achieve the intended safety benefits of these technologies, manufacturers must educate customers not only about their benefits but also their limitations. Tesla Motors has reportedly taken many steps in this area.

    To address the foregoing issues, I request that you direct company representatives to brief Committee staff on the details of this incident, including the technology that was in use at the time, Tesla’s actions in response, and the company’s cooperation with NHTSA, by no later than July 29, 2016.

    Source: Thune Seeks Answers from Elon Musk on Autopilot Technology
     
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  2. bkp_duke

    bkp_duke Member

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    Hrm, senator from South Dakota. . . isn't that a state that derives a lot of it's revenue from oil fracking?
     
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  3. jelloslug

    jelloslug Member

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    When are they going to investigate Nintendo? Pokemon Go has caused more injuries that Autopilot...
     
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  4. HookBill

    HookBill Member

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    Wrong Dakota
     
  5. rcsting

    rcsting Member

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    They should investigate why so many Ford Mustangs crash while leaving Cars and Coffee. There are many videos on this subject.
     
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  6. Xenoilphobe

    Xenoilphobe Active Member

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    #6 Xenoilphobe, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    Actually seems like a well stated letter. Looks like this Senator is actually taking his job seriously. Very rare. Good to see him get in front of it and get facts directly from Tesla verses the smear media.

    Watching the media manipulate the Sheeple has reminded me that we haven't progressed very far from our primate brothers.

     
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  7. EinSV

    EinSV Member

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    #7 EinSV, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    I know next to nothing about Sen. Thune, but he did make some fairly strong statements in March in favor of promoting innovation in automated driving technology because it would save lives.

    Hands Off: The Future of Self-Driving Cars

    Here are a couple examples:

    "Because so much is possible, we must be careful not to stymie innovation because of a lack of imagination.​

    "Federal and state governments may need to rethink how they regulate and license vehicles for the future.​

    "We must ensure that the United States remains the cradle of innovation and that we continue to lead the way in the development and deployment of automated vehicles.​

    "This morning, the Committee had the great opportunity to see some of this technology in action, when we brought self-drive to Capitol Hill. Continental, Volkswagen, BMW, and Tesla provided vehicles that gave us first-hand experience to see what the future may hold and a preview to the discussions at this hearing."​

    As noted by @Xenoilphobe the letter also is written in a way that seems supportive of automated driving technology as a way to save lives.

    That's not to say politics won't intervene at some point but so far it appears the Senator may just be doing his job. Hopefully that's the case.
     
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  8. msnow

    msnow Active Member

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    Is Musk a Democrat, Republican or????
     
  9. EinSV

    EinSV Member

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    #9 EinSV, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    As near as I can tell, he tries to stay out of partisan politics and to stay neutral, to the extent that is possible. Roughly equal donations to Republican and Democratic candidates.

    Elon Musk’s politics are as enigmatic as his businesses
     
  10. msnow

    msnow Active Member

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    Well many of the Republicans deny climate change. I think that would influence his politics right?
     
  11. EinSV

    EinSV Member

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    #11 EinSV, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    Sure could. I am just saying that based on the letter and previous hearing he held on self-driving he does not sound like someone who is inclined to promote regulations that would stifle automated driving innovations like Autopilot.

    Could he change direction and go after Tesla due to partisan politics? Well, he is a Senator, so yes.
     
  12. d7j6f

    d7j6f Member

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    It`s interesting to look at the damage of the Tesla in the fatal crash, ie - it looks like the under carriage crash protection was`nt present on the trailer.... also the height of the trailer deck to the ground you can drive a Lotus Elise under it.... sadly it`s not the 1st car to be involved in fatal crashes involving these trailers maybe the trailers should be investigated ?? As for radar needs an object to see to determine its course of action....
     
  13. msnow

    msnow Active Member

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    Agree, let's hope he leaves Benghazi and emails out of it. :)
     
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  14. d7j6f

    d7j6f Member

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    Said Lotus Picture 524.jpg
     
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  15. Xenoilphobe

    Xenoilphobe Active Member

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    I am republican - and don't deny climate change - be careful with the big brush - you are falling for the polarity of parties pitch that the media tries to push.

    We are all a lot closer together on issues than you might believe.

    South Dakota is a very unique state with no income tax, and people that actually provide value to our economy - they provide 4% of all beef in the US and a lot of our agricultural products. They have 5 million acres of corn!!! Hopefully they aren't turning it into Ethanol...
     
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  16. EinSV

    EinSV Member

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    You would think that with all this attention some US regulator somewhere would say -- hey, if this accident had happened in the EU the guy probably would have lived since they don't allow trailers like this without a protective barrier. As far as I can tell, crickets on that one.
     
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  17. Xenoilphobe

    Xenoilphobe Active Member

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    American Trucking Association Lobbyist would never allow a protective barrier...it might protect someone.;)
     
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  18. msnow

    msnow Active Member

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    My apologies but I did not say "all" I said "many" and I have no stats just a gut feeling.
     
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  19. HookBill

    HookBill Member

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    And thus the question: should these trailer panels be mandated in the US? They are in much of Europe for fuel efficiency purposes. Now, with more and more radar sensors being deployed in our autos now, it seems these panels should be viewed from a growing safety standpoint as it would be a fuel efficiency reason.
     
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  20. BigAirHarper

    BigAirHarper Member

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    I love this bc it's so true. Vote republican, fiscally conservative, socially libertarian, admit to climate change, and love Tesla. Hahaha let the media try to put me in a box!
     
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