31st March 2018 by Steve Hanley
It has been a difficult month for those who welcome the advent of self-driving vehicles. First, a Uber test car hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. The subsequent investigation reveals details of the company's autonomous driving system, suggesting that Uber has reduced the number of lidar sensors in its system to save money. And Tesla has posted an update on the terrible crash that killed a Model X driver in semi-autonomous transport last week in California.
Autopilot What Engaged
In a March 30 blog post, Tesla said: "In the moments before the collision, on Friday, the March 23rd at 9:27 pm, the autopilot was set to minimum with the following adaptive cruise control pitch adjustment: the driver had received several visual and an audible hands-on warning earlier in the ride, and the driver's hands were lowered before the Collision for six seconds not detected on the steering wheel.The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters clear view of the concrete partition with the broken impact absorber, but the vehicle logs show that nothing was done. "
Engadget reported that Brother of the victim told the press The victim had complained several times about his car, which behaved unpredictable at this intersection on the highway. The deceased was employed by Apple as an engineer and drove to work on the same route every day. He reportedly drove several times by car to a Tesla service facility to tackle the problem, but the staff there could not find anything wrong with the car.
Investigators of the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSB) will review the study of electronic data from the car to more accurately determine what happened in the moments before the accident. Such examinations typically last 12 to 18 months. Tesla's blog post indicated that an accident damper at this point on the freeway had been destroyed 11 days earlier in another accident. The damaged equipment was not replaced at the time of this accident. Then it went on to praise the virtues of its autopilot system.
The next section is the second half of Tesla's statement in response to the incident (subtitle added).
Tesla Defends Autopilot
Over a year ago, our first iteration of autopilot was found by the US government to reduce the crash rate by up to 40%. Internal data confirms that recent updates to the autopilot have improved system reliability.
In the US, there is an auto death every 86 million miles across all vehicles of all manufacturers. At Tesla, vehicles with autopilot hardware will die every 320 million miles, including known deadly pedestrians. If you drive a Tesla with autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less involved in a fatal accident.
Tesla autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to happen. It makes the world for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists clearly safer.
Nobody knows about the accidents that did not happen, only about those who happened. The consequences of the fact that the public does not use the autopilot because it is not certain that it is less safe would be extremely serious. Worldwide there are about 1.25 million deaths in the automotive industry. Applying the current safety level of a Tesla vehicle would mean about 900,000 lives a year. We expect the safety level of autonomous cars to be 10 times safer than non-autonomous cars.
In the past, when we set up statistical safety points, we were criticized for it, meaning that we have no empathy for the car tragedy that has just occurred. Nothing is further from the truth. We care very much for those who have decided to give us their trust. But we also have to look after people who can save their lives now and in the future if they know that autopilot improves safety. None of this changes how devastating an event like this is or how much we feel for the family and friends of our clients. We are incredibly sorry for her loss.
Are self-propelled systems safe?
There is no doubt more details about this tragedy will be made available in the course of the investigation. In the meantime, the debate continues over whether Tesla should be allowed to equip its cars with self-propelled systems that are far from perfect. Wired sums up the current situation this way: "Engineers are convinced that reducing the crowd, which is easily averted from traffic, will reduce the 40,000 deaths per year on American roads – but right now The systems are not sophisticated enough to function without human supervision, which is difficult to maintain, leaving everyone in a difficult midfield – a no-man's-land with no obvious or immediate route. "