In March 2018, a tesla driver was killed in a crash in California during using the auto-pilot driver assistance system. The National Transportation Safety Board disclosed in public made documents that the driver had reported that on prior trips the car had drove away from the highway.
Walter Huang, 38 years old was Apple’s software engineer and was driving Tesla’s Model X in autopilot mode in Mountain View at 70 mph while it crashed into safety barrier. The NTSB said that Huang had previously reported issues related to autopilot steering wheel during driving in an area in between a lane and a highway ramp. It was a moving violation to intersect into the other section of the road, commonly known as “gore area”.
The derived data displays that Huang had previously taken corrective action while the autopilot had steered into the area. The NTSB reported that Huang’s hands were not detected on steering wheels during the final six seconds before the crash. There wasn’t any evidence of evasive action or braking. The NTSB also found evidence that the driver was operating a smartphone during the trip.
Tesla drivers have commented that they can avoid holding steering wheels for long periods while the vehicle is in autopilot however, the company suggests drivers to hold the steering wheels and pay attention during using the system.
During the trip, in the course of final 18 minutes of Autopilot segment, the system could not detect Huang’s hands on the steering wheels and the system had also issued two visual hands off driving operation alerts along with one auditory alert.
The NTSB declared that Huang was using Apple owned iPhone during the trip and records show proof of data transmissions.
Data recovered from Apple’s assistance exhibit that Huang was active on a word building game application named as “Three Kingdoms” during his fatal trip.