Federal regulators said Monday that the driver of a Tesla Model S killed in a collision while the auto was in autopilot mode did not have his hands on the steering wheel for a prolonged period of time.
The National Transportation Safety Board released 500 pages of findings on the death of driver Joshua Brown, 40.
At the time of the crash, Brown was traveling at 74 miles (118 km) per hour in an area where the speed limit was 65 mph, when he collided with the semitrailer making a left turn. As you might expect, there was an inordinate amount of coverage on the crash. Data from the vehicle's system revealed Brown was operating the auto using automated control systems like traffic-aware cruise control and Autosteer. The authorities said the motorist, a former Navy Seal, had his hands on the wheel for 25 seconds during the 37 minutes of the trip when they should have been placed on the steering wheel.
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The report said the Autopilot mode remained on during most of his trip and that it gave him to a visual warning seven separate times that said "Hands Required Not Detected". The system also sounded chime for six times. The company did say previous year that autopilot mode "does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility". The report said a complete analysis with probable cause and recommendations related to the crash will be issued "at a later date".
The NTSB cautioned that its report was only fact-finding about the crash. The impact killed the Tesla driver, Joshua Brown, who had set the auto to a speed of 74 miles (119 km) an hour in a zone limited to 65 miles per hour. He also said the family has yet to take legal action against Tesla, but would continue to review the NTSB documents.
"Just a white cloud, like just a big white explosion", Terrence Mulligan, a witness who saw the impact and rushed to where the electric vehicle came to rest, told investigators with the US National Transportation Safety Board.
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In September, Tesla unveiled improvements to autopilot, adding new limits on hands-off driving.
A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman said the truck driver was charged with a right of way traffic violation.
"Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against the brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied", Tesla said in its blog post. "He is due for a court hearing on Wednesday".
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