Liberty Times reported that the driver of a Tesla who died in a crash in California last week was Taiwanese. The crash is being widely reported in international media today, as it was revealed that the car was on autopilot at the time.
Huang Wei, (Walter Huang), 38, who worked for Apple, was driving to work on March 23 when his car crashed into a traffic barrier on highway 101 in Mountain View.
According to The Guardian, federal investigators are looking into the incident, along with another crash in January of a Tesla Model S that may also have been operating under the Autopilot system.
Tesla said that the driver had received visual and audible hands-on warnings but had taken no action before the crash.
“The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.” Tesla wrote in a blogpost.
Tesla claims that the Autopilot was found to reduce crash rates by 40% in tests carried out by the US government, and that the system has been improved since those tests.
New York Times reported that the crash renews questions about Autopilot, and whether the company has gone far enough to ensure that it keeps drivers and passengers safe. NYT quoted Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey who said:
“At the very least, I think there will have to be fundamental changes to Autopilot. The system as it is now tricks you into thinking it has more capability than it does. It’s not an autonomous system. It’s not a hands-free system. But that’s how people are using it, and it works fine, until it suddenly doesn’t.”
CB Elmira reported two days ago, on March 30, and before Tesla had confirmed the car was on Autopilot, that Walter Huang had reported on 7-10 occasions that his Model X had veered toward the same traffic barrier. Huang had taken his SUV to the dealer, but they could not duplicate the problem.
Shawn Price, Director of Science for an environmental startup drove the ABC7 I-team to the scene of the crash in his own Tesla Model X. Attention was drawn to two white lines leading to the start of the traffic barrier. Tesla owners on an online bulletin board had speculated that the white lines may have guided Huang’s car into the traffic barrier.
Price told the I-Team: “I mean, you have to think like a computer, right? A computer doesn’t know, it has no logic, so if it sees a line, it might think that’s a lane.”
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