According to a new report from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tesla vehicle crash rates dropped almost 40 percent after the installation of Autopilot’s Autosteer feature.
The report comes as the NHTSA closes its investigation into a 2016 crash that killed a Tesla driver whose Model S was in Autopilot mode. The government agency cleared Tesla of any fault in the incident, saying it didn’t find any defects in Tesla’s design of their Autopilot system.
Autosteer is at the heart of Autopilot and is designed to be used on highways and limited-access roads. The feature arrived in 2015, and using a Tesla vehicle’s front-facing cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, detects lane markings and the presence of other cars and objects to stay centered in a lane.
The NHTSA highlighted Tesla’s efforts to convey the limitations of the system and instructions in the owner’s manual and elsewhere that the driver must keep a hold of the steering wheel.
According to the report, Tesla took factors such as driver distraction into its development of Autopilot, and further updates have reinforced keeping hands on the wheel and being able to take over the vehicle.
The NHTSA notes the fatal 2016 crash appeared to involve a period of extended distraction, which constitutes a length of at least seven seconds. Reenactments found the driver should have been able to see the tractor trailer he collided with for at least that length of time before impact.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted that Tesla is targeting a 90% crash rate reduction with its second-generation self-driving hardware and Enhanced Autopilot features.
[via Business Insider]