NTSB Finds Tesla Autopilot Partly to Blame for Fatal Crash

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has concluded that the crash that killed the driver of a 2015 Tesla Model S electric sedan in Florida last year was at least partly due to the limitations of “system safeguards” on the vehicle’s Autopilot semiautonomous feature.

According to Reuters, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said: “Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed and the system gave far too much leeway to the driver to divert his attention.”

Autopilot is designed to control the steering and speed of a vehicle driving on a highway with exit and entrance ramps, well-defined medians and clear lane markings. Since it’s not intended to have full self-driving capability, the system alerts the driver repeatedly with visual and audible warnings to pay attention and keep his or her hands on the steering wheel.

But in January, both the NTSB and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration determined that Joshua Brown, the driver of the Model S, had set the vehicle’s cruise control at 74 mph (higher than the 65-mph limit), was not driving on a controlled-access highway and ignored the system’s warnings to remain alert.

So when a semitruck turned left across the path of Brown’s vehicle, the Autopilot system failed to respond because it’s not designed to detect crossing traffic, and the driver did not apply the brakes or otherwise take control. As a result, the Model S crashed into the side of the truck, killing Brown instantly.

At the time, NHTSA concluded that the vehicle had no defects and that Autopilot had performed as designed. And NTSB attributed the crash to driver error.

Now, however, NTSB says that Autopilot’s “operational design” was at least a contributing factor to the crash because, as configured at the time, it allowed drivers to keep their hands off the steering wheel and otherwise let their attention wander from the road for extended periods of time. In other words, drivers can override or ignore warnings from the system, putting them at risk for collisions.

NTSB has devised a number of recommendations for automakers developing partially autonomous vehicles. These include going beyond simple alerts to ensure driver engagement, blocking the use of a self-driving system beyond the limits of its design, and making sure these systems are only used on specific types of roads.

Tesla responded that it would evaluate the agency’s recommendations and “will also continue to be extremely clear with current and potential customers that Autopilot is not a fully self-driving technology and drivers need to remain attentive at all times.”

Tesla has continuously updated Autopilot since its introduction. For example, the latest version doesn’t just give warnings; it will shut off completely if the driver doesn’t take control of the wheel.

Although the Tesla Autopilot crash prompted continued NTSB scrutiny, the agency stressed that its recommendations apply to other automakers as well. It specifically mentioned Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, suggesting that their semiautonomous systems should also receive upgraded warnings and features that prevent drivers from using them improperly.

Fatal Tesla Autopilot crash due to ‘over-reliance on automation, lack of safeguards’

The United States’ National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) has released its final findings on the fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S operating in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode.

The crash occurred in Flordia in May 2016 when Joshua Brown’s Tesla Model S collided with the underside of a tractor-trailer as the truck turned onto the non-controlled access highway.

Tesla Autopilot system is a level two semi-autonomous driving mode, which is designed to automatically steer and accelerate a car while it’s on a controlled access motorway or freeway with well defined entry and exit ramps.

According to the NTSB, Tesla’s Autopilot functioned as programmed because it was not designed to recognise a truck crossing into the car’s path from an intersecting road. As such, it did not warn the driver or engage the automated emergency braking system.

The report said the “driver’s pattern of use of the Autopilot system indicated an over-reliance on the automation and a lack of understanding of the system limitations”.

The NTSB’s team concluded “while evidence revealed the Tesla driver was not attentive to the driving task, investigators could not determine from available evidence the reason for his inattention”.

It also noted “the truck driver had used marijuana before the crash, his level of impairment, if any, at the time of the crash could not be determined from the available evidence”.

Tesla did not escape blame, with the NTSB calling out the electric car maker for its ineffective methods of ensuring driver engagement.

In issuing the report, Robert L. Sumwalt III, the NTSB’s chairman, said, “System safeguards, that should have prevented the Tesla’s driver from using the car’s automation system on certain roadways, were lacking and the combined effects of human error and the lack of sufficient system safeguards resulted in a fatal collision that should not have happened”.

The electric car maker has since made changes to its Autopilot system, including reducing the interval before it begins warning the driver that their hands are off the steering wheel.

As part of its findings, the NTSB also issued a number of recommendations to various government authorities and car makers with level two self-driving features.

These NTSB called for standardised data logging formats, safeguards to ensure autonomous driving systems are used only in the manner for which they were designed, and improved monitoring of driver engagement in vehicles fitted with autonomous and semi-autonomous safety systems.

Joshua Brown’s family issued a statement through its lawyers earlier this week in anticipation of the NTSB’s report.

“We heard numerous times that the car killed our son. That is simply not the case,” the family said. “There was a small window of time when neither Joshua nor the Tesla features noticed the truck making the left-hand turn in front of the car.

“People die every day in car accidents. Change always comes with risks, and zero tolerance for deaths would totally stop innovation and improvements.”

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Tesla shares blame for fatal Autopilot crash according to NTSB report

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has completed its investigation into a fatal crash involving a semi-truck and a Tesla Model S utilizing automated driving systems. The reasons for the crash are complex, but the report highlights issues with self-driving vehicles that should be of concern.

The incident happened in May of 2016 in Florida. It gained wide media attention because the fatality in the wreck was the driver of a Tesla Model S who was using the car’s “Autopilot” semi-automated driving system. Blame for the wreck has been bandied about, thrown at both the commercial vehicle’s driver and the Tesla driver. Based on evidence from the crash, the NTSB’s report blames both drivers and the way Tesla’s Autopilot handled the situation.

Tesla Motors has taken a lot of flak for the name of its system and for its reliance on small print to explain that it is not, in fact, a fully autonomous driving system as the name might imply. To the company’s credit, though, it has revised much of its marketing and has now changed the software that controls the Autopilot system, which the NTSB report noted.

Yet blame for the crash itself is not terribly important. What’s more important is what can be learned from it. Namely some of the inherent dangers in autonomous vehicles, our perception of them, and how they’ll function in a world with mixed human and computer drivers on the road. The near-future of vehicle automation is going to determine what the public’s perception of self-driving vehicles is for some time.

In the NTSB’s report on the fatal Tesla crash, the blame was placed on the driver of the semi-truck, the Tesla driver, and the car’s automated systems. All three drivers (truck driver, car driver, and computer) made serious mistakes that ultimately lead to the accident.

The semi-truck driver did not yield proper right of way, causing the big rig to move in front of the Tesla unexpectedly. The driver of the Model S was not paying attention to the road at all, relying solely on the automated driving systems in the car. The Autopilot system was not designed for fully automated driving and had no way of “seeing” the oncoming crash due to limitations in its sensor setup. Nor was the Tesla adequately engaging the driver with warnings about his inattention to the road or the task of driving.

So the crash proceeded as follows: the truck driver failed to yield right of way and entered the Tesla’s path as it proceeded forward. The only indication of possible impairment to the truck driver was a trace of marijuana in the driver’s blood, but no other distractions were found in the investigation.

Meanwhile, the Model S driver was not paying attention to the road at all, though what exactly the driver was doing is undetermined. The driver’s cause of death was definitely crash-related, however, indicating that the driver did not suffer a medical emergency or other problem that could have led to the incident. The driver had a history, according to the Tesla’s recording software, of misusing the Autopilot system in this way.

The Tesla Model S’ Autopilot system had alerted the driver several times to his inattention, but had not taken further lengths or, the NTSB found, done enough to adequately prevent the driver from relinquishing all control to the car. Furthermore, the sensors and systems on board the Model S were not capable of registering the truck or its potential (and eventual) crossing of the car’s path and thus did not engage emergency braking or avoidance maneuvers. That latter part attests to the often misunderstood nature of today’s semi-automated driving systems.

From these facts, the NTSB listed several recommendations for semi-automated vehicles to meet. In its own investigation into the crash and with early input from the NTSB, Tesla found problems with the Autopilot driver inattention warning system, and has since taken steps to remedy them. Tesla Motors has also revised most of its current marketing materials to further emphasize that the Autopilot system is not a fully-automated driving system capable of completely autonomous vehicle operation and that drivers are still required to be engaged in driving even when Autopilot is activated.

The NTSB is recommending that manufacturers put restrictions in place to keep semi-automated vehicle control systems working within the confines of their design conditions to prevent drivers from misusing them. This would mean that a semi-automated vehicle whose automation is designed for use during commutes at highway speeds would need to not operate at speeds lower than that and would not function in driving situations where the reading of road signs or compliance with pedestrian crossings and the like are required.

Today, most semi-automated driving systems being used at the consumer level are based around adaptive cruise control designs. These are made to watch traffic on a freeway or highway, where multiple lanes are available, but cross-traffic and pedestrians do not exist. These systems commonly require the driver to have hands on the steering wheel at all times and are often now augmented by “driver awareness” indicators that measure how attentive the driver is. Most work by gauging the driver’s ability to keep the vehicle within its lane without assistance. Some also work by noting the driver’s head position, input to the steering wheel, and position in the seat.

The NTSB also called for vehicle event data to be captured in all semi-automated vehicles and made available in standard formats so investigators can more easily use them. They called for manufacturers to incorporate robust system safeguards to limit the automated control systems’ use, and they called for the development of applications to more effectively sense the driver’s level of engagement.

The NTSB also asked manufacturers to more closely report incidents involving semi-automated vehicle control systems. These recommendations were issued to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Global Automakers group, and to individual manufacturers designing and implementing autonomous vehicle technologies.

With the release of the NTSB’s summary report today, the U.S. Department of Transportation also released its own guidance on automated driving systems. These federal guidelines are given as suggestions that vehicle manufacturers are asked to voluntarily follow.

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Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet announced for PS4, Xbox One, and PC

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet announced for PS4, Xbox One, and PC

Set in the fictional VRMMORPG that is Gun Gale Online.

Sword Art Online: GGO

Following a teaser trailer earlier this week, Bandai Namco and Dimps have announced Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It will launch worldwide in early 2018.

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is a third-person shooter RPG and the first Sword Art Online game based in the fictional Gun Gale Online virtual reality MMORPG, which is featured in season two of the Sword Art Online TV anime.

Here’s an overview of the game, via Amazon:

About

Become the hero of Gun Gale Online in the latest game of the Sword Art Online franchise in Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. Step into the versatile landscapes and environments of Gun Gale Online. Experience an original story supervised by series creator Reki Kawahara that unfolds and changes based on the players’ choices and interaction. Play as the protagonist, battle against opponents using new weapons and further customize gameplay by creating skills and abilities. Interact with characters from the Sword Art Online original novels, anime and previous games as you navigate a world that is vastly personalized and visually enhanced. As an action based RPG, gun battle plays a large role unlike previous games, with unique and realistic designs resembling something out of a sci-fi movie and numerous other weapons and fighting styles to choose from. Stunning visuals also accompany this game thanks to the power of the Unreal Engine 4, which lends realism to the textures and materials, further immersing the player into the dynamic world. Full dive into Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet.

Key Features

  • Welcome to the World of Guns: Gun Gale Online from Sword Art Online II is visually enhanced, with many landscapes to discover in an all new original story supervised by series creator, Reki Kawahara.
  • Unreal Visuals: Get lost in a lifelike world developed by Dimps with realistic and robust environments and textures made possible by Unreal Engine 4.
  • Friend or Foe: Challenge tough bosses that require friends in co-op or play against them in 4-on- 4 battles.
  • Realistic and Heroic Gun Play: plenty of one-of-a-kind and beautifully Designed weapons to choose from and unique skills to create.
  • New to Xbox One and PC: Sword Art Online is playable on Xbox One and PC for the first time in the history of the popular gaming series.

Watch the announcement trailer below (MP4 here). View the first set of screenshots at the gallery. Visit the official Japanese website here.

Defense attorneys in fatal “Pokemon Go” shooting allege victim previously tried to run over someone | Courts & Crime

CHESAPEAKE

Defense attorneys for a security guard charged with murder are alleging in court documents that the victim in the case – 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen – tried to run over somebody with his vehicle in a separate incident in 2015.

And they want to introduce testimony about that alleged incident at trial as part of a self-defense argument, according to court documents.

Johnathan Cromwell, 22, is charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in Chen’s January death in the River Walk neighborhood. Chen’s family has said he was playing “Pokemon Go” at the time and spoke little English.

Cromwell’s public defender, Robin Winn, filed a motion this month asking the court to allow the defense team to present evidence that Chen tried to hit a man, Steve Ray, with his vehicle in August or September 2015 at a Virginia Beach marina.

Cromwell has since hired a private attorney, Andrew Sacks, who will formally take over the case at a hearing today in Circuit Court. Sacks said he plans to pursue Winn’s motion.

“We’re going to pick up where he left off,” said Sacks, who also represents Cromwell’s employer, Citywide Protection Services.

James Broccoletti, an attorney for the Chen family, said he’d never heard about the alleged marina incident and doubted the veracity of the claim.

“There’s nothing in Mr. Chen’s character that would suggest that’s true,” he said.

A search of court records shows Chen was never charged in such an incident.

The motion does not specify a date and does not name the marina.

Without more information, a spokeswoman with the Virginia Beach Police Department couldn’t search for an incident report at The Pilot’s request late last week.

The Pilot was unable to locate Ray for comment. He runs a boat at the marina, according to court documents.

Cromwell’s public defender argues in the documents that “evidence of a previous violent act by the deceased” may be introduced when a defendant argues self-defense. Defense attorneys don’t have to show a client knew about the prior incident, the documents said.

The alleged marina incident supports Cromwell’s assertion that Chen was the “aggressor” the night he died, the public defender wrote.

About 11 p.m. Jan. 26, Chen turned into the driveway of the Riverwalk Clubhouse parking area in the 700 block of River Walk Pkwy.

Cromwell stopped his vehicle directly in front of Chen’s van, according to prosecutors, and Chen backed up to leave. Cromwell exited his car and said “stop” before he fired, prosecutors have said.

Chen was shot four times in the upper left chest and once in the upper left arm.

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Prosecutors have said Cromwell fired through the driver’s-side window of Chen’s van then moved to the front of it, where he fired numerous times through the windshield.

While talking with a police detective after the shooting, Cromwell asked about the grouping of his shots, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Lori Galbraith has said in court.

At a preliminary hearing last month, Winn argued that Chen came at his client and would have run him over if Cromwell hadn’t fired his gun. Security guards previously had barred Chen for trespassing in certain areas after hours, he said.

Winn filed several other requests this month, asking the court to reconsider bond for Cromwell, appoint a ballistics expert to assist the defense and move the trial to another jurisdiction, arguing that “excessive publicity” will prejudice Cromwell’s ability to get a fair trial in Chesapeake, according to court documents.

Sacks said he plans to pursue those motions, too.

Prosecutors already have opposed bond. A detective testified at the preliminary hearing that Cromwell’s claims were not consistent with the evidence at the scene, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney D.J. Hansen wrote in a court document.

A “substantial amount” of broken glass was found on the ground beneath the shot-out driver’s-side window, contrary to Cromwell’s claim that the van was moving forward before he stepped in front of the vehicle and fired through the windshield, Hansen wrote.

The Department of Criminal Justice Services suspended Cromwell’s security guard registration and firearms endorsement pending the outcome of his criminal case, he wrote.

Father of teen driver who live-streamed fatal crash speaks out: ‘She killed her own sister’

Jacqueline Sanchez Estrada was killed in a crash July 21. (GoFundMe)

A father spoke out about the death of his daughter after a car crash that was live-streamed in a horrifying Instagram video by his older daughter, who was driving.

The California Highway Patrol told Fox affiliate KTXL that 18-year-old Obdulia Sanchez lost control of her 2003 Buick, drove off the edge of the road and then over-corrected. The car crashed into a barbed-wire fence and flipped over in a field, according to ABC affiliate KFSN.

Sanchez’s 14-year-old sister, Jacqueline, and another teen girl — who were in the back seat and were not wearing seat belts — were ejected from the tumbling car.

Moments later, Obdulia Sanchez was on Instagram Live again, explaining what happened — and growing increasingly hysterical.

“Hey, everybody, if I go to f—— jail for life, you already know why,” she began, adjusting the camera so that it showed her younger sister, motionless and bleeding from the head.

“My sister is f—— dying. Look, I f—— love my sister to death. I don’t give a f—. Man, we about to die. This is the last thing I wanted to happen to us, but it just did. Jacqueline, please wake up.”

Another girl screamed in the background.

“I don’t f—— care though,” Sanchez continued. “I’m a hold it down. I love you, rest in peace, sweetie. If you don’t survive, baby, I am so f—— sorry. I did not mean to kill you, sweetie. Sweetie, I am f—— sorry. Sweetie, please, wake up!”

Jacqueline was pronounced dead shortly afterward.

The Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke told ABC affiliate KFSN that Jacqueline “was in the back seat of the vehicle and allegedly unseatbelted, and upon the vehicle rolling over, it ejected her and killed her.”

Nicandro Sanchez told ABC affiliate KFSN that he and his wife Gloria had seen the video.

“What I think is [Obdulia] knows she’s done something wrong. Because she knows, and that’s what I feel. She feels bad for herself, but she killed her own sister.”

Obdulia Sanchez was in Merced County Jail on Monday, accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and gross vehicular manslaughter.

Obdulia Sanchez. (Merced County Sheriff)

The other girl, whom authorities have not identified, had major trauma to her right leg but is expected to survive.

Jacqueline Sanchez was supposed to celebrate her quinceañera on Sunday, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help cover the dead teen’s funeral expenses.

NOW: 14 year old crash victim, Jacquelin Salazar remembered at her family’s Stockton home. Her father says, ‘I don’t know how to feel. My one daughter killed my other daughter.’

Posted by Sontaya Rose Abc30 Action News on Monday, July 24, 2017

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Darin Heredia told BuzzFeed News that officials were “well aware” of the video. They are trying to determine whether it’s legitimate and, if so, whether Sanchez’s phone use contributed to the crash.

The video is the latest example of how people have used live-streaming tools in ways technology companies such as Facebook, which owns Instagram, have struggled to contain. 

As The Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg reported in April, “live video of violent incidents, including suicides, beheadings and torture, have gone viral, with some reaching millions of people.”

In May, Facebook said it would hire thousands of people to review content to cut down on violent and sensitive video, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Read more: 

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Elizabeth Thomas’s abduction made her a different child. Her family isn’t sure how to help her.

A teenage girl was ‘brainwashed’ before she was abducted by her teacher, her father says

A teen died in a car crash — then the state of Tennessee billed her for the broken guardrail

Prosecutors: Boy, 16, accused of fatal shooting over Facebook post

A 16-year-old boy who felt his murdered friend was “disrespected” on Facebook fatally shot the poster, in what became this year’s 200th homicide, according to prosecutors and records.

Landon Allen, 16, appeared Friday before Judge Donald Panarese Jr., who set bail at $1 million during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Allen, who is charged as an adult with murder, is accused of fatally shooting Jermaine Brown, 23, on May 8 in the 5400 block of South Indiana Avenue, authorities said.

An ongoing dispute erupted after Brown posted something on Facebook about a mutual friend of theirs who had been murdered weeks before, prosecutors said.  

Allen and a second person were angry with Brown because they felt the post disrespected their deceased friend, “Honcho,” according to Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Santini.

Witnesses and Brown were standing in the 5400 block of South Indiana about 7:45 p.m. that night when Allen and another person began arguing. After a witness stepped in to stop them, the witness told Allen that he should just “talk it out’’ with Brown, according to Santini.

So Allen walked over to Brown and they spoke briefly. Allen extended his hand and they shook, but moments later, Allen reached into his hoodie and pulled out a gun and began firing multiple times at Brown, who began running away.

Allen, however, kept firing “until he ran out of bullets,’’ and then told a second uncharged suspect to “Blow the 40,’’ and that suspect also fired as Brown fled, according to Santini.

Brown made it about a block before collapsing on the street in the 200 block of East 55th Street. He suffered five gunshot wounds from Allen and the other shooter to his shoulder, neck, abdomen, forearm and buttocks, prosecutors said.

A witness who came forward identified Allen by name as one of the people he saw shoot Brown, who was unarmed.

Detectives also obtained cellphone data that placed Allen in the area of the slaying at the time it happened, according to prosecutors.

Brown, of the 5100 block of South Wabash Avenue, was Chicago’s 200th homicide this year, according to data kept by the Chicago Tribune.  The city reached that grim milestone just four days later than it did last year, which was the most violent in decades.

Allen is scheduled to appear again in court on Aug. 10.

Man charged in wife’s fatal shooting during Uber ride in Queen Anne

The shooting came as the couple argued after attending a wedding in Hillman City, prosecutors allege in charging documents. Cameron John Espitia, 31, wanted to go to an after-party, but his wife wanted to go home, according to the documents.

After attending a wedding for one of her high-school friends, Jennifer Morrison Espitia wanted to go home to Hillman City, but her husband ­— who had been drinking — wanted to go to an after-party, according to King County prosecutors.

As the couple argued during a ride in an Uber, Cameron John Espitia pulled out a gun and shot his 29-year-old wife in the head, killing her, prosecutors say.

Espitia, 31, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder domestic violence in connection with the shooting early Sunday in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.

The Uber driver witnessed the shooting and later helped police identify Espitia as a suspect, charging papers say.

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Employed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Espitia, a California native, is being held in jail in lieu of $3 million bail, court and jail records say. Police say Espitia maintains he can’t remember what happened between getting into the Uber and waking up in some bushes, charging papers say.

According to the charges:

The Uber driver told police he picked the couple up at a hotel on Westlake Avenue North. Jennifer Morrison Espitia got into the front passenger seat while her husband sat in the rear passenger seat behind the driver.

The driver later told police the couple argued as he drove and recalled part of the fight was about Cameron Espitia’s mother. Espitia told the driver to drop him off on Aurora Avenue, but his wife told the driver to ignore Espitia and continue driving.

The driver said he heard a “boom” and initially thought he’d hit something or blown a tire. He then saw Jennifer Morrison Espitia’s head drop down, and he realized she’d been shot.

Fearing he’d be shot next, the driver asked Cameron Espitia where he’d like to go. He then dropped him off after being instructed to pull over, the charges say. The driver then drove another block and called 911.

Officers located Cameron Espitia in the 2100 block of Queen Anne Avenue North. Police say Espitia told officers he’d had “a bad night” and had been stranded by his wife after an argument, according to the charges.

He had a handgun on him and officers saw what appeared to be dried blood on the right shoulder of his suit, the charges say.

Though detectives noted “a strong odor of intoxicants” on Espitia, he “was able to converse with us coherently and answer questions that we had of the events of the evening leading up to the Uber ride pick up,” charging papers say.

King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Berliner also noted in charging documents that Espitia “made several concerning statements that suggest he believes his life is ‘no longer worth living.’ ”

Jennifer Morrison Espitia graduated from Mercer Island High School and was on the rowing team at Saint Mary’s College in California, according to a college-athletics biography. She won a community-service award for her work as a peer educator at Planned Parenthood, working at a day care and building homes in Mexico. She most recently worked in employee benefits at the risk-prevention/insurance-needs firm Marsh & McLennan Agency, according to her Facebook page.

Tesla Alerted Driver to Retake Wheel Seven Times Prior to Fatal Crash

Tesla AutoPilot cruise control

The National Transportation Safety Board has finally concluded its investigation into a May 2016 crash in Florida that resulted in the death of 40-year-old Joshua Brown. The ex-Navy SEAL’s Tesla Model S was operating in Autopilot mode when it collided with a semi trailer, raising speculation that the semi-autonomous driving feature was the reason for the accident.

While Tesla has repeatedly called the system a lane-keeping “assist feature” and suggested drivers always keep their hands on the wheel, consumer safety groups have urged the automaker to improve it.

An earlier investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated in January that the Autopilot software in Brown’s car did not have any safety defects. However, the NTSB stated that data acquired from the vehicle’s computer indicated that neither the vehicle nor its operator made any attempt to avoid the truck. It also specified that the vehicle had issued seven warnings for Brown to retake the wheel.

In the 37 minutes leading up to the fatal crash, the report said the car detected hands on the steering wheel for a total of 25 seconds.

Brown’s car was traveling at roughly 74 miles an hour when it struck the side of a trailer that was crossing the highway. The Autopilot seemingly failed to distinguish between the white truck and the bright sky behind it. But witnesses to the accident indicated the driver should have seen it coming and had ample time to brake.

This might be a good time to once again remind drivers that there is no such thing as a fully autonomous production car yet. Adaptive cruise control allows a vehicle to maintain a pace relative to traffic in front of the car. Auto-steer holds the vehicle in its lane. Neither system is foolproof and both require you to remain alert and ready to take over in an instant.

With that in mind, the NTSB and NHTSA findings exonerate Tesla from any wrongdoing. As tragic as it is that Brown’s life ended because he trusted his vehicle so unconditionally, he appears to be the one most responsible for the incident. However, the Florida Highway Patrol had stated earlier that the truck driver had been issued a citation for a right of way traffic violation.

Earlier claims from the truck driver suggested Brown had been watching a DVD at the time of the accident, but no evidence has arisen to bolster those assertions. The NTSB stated that it had recovered numerous electronic devices, including a laptop, from the wrecked Tesla but did not have sufficient proof to indicate they were in use at the time of the crash. A lawyer representing Brown’s family told Reuters that any suggestions to the contrary were “unequivocally false.”

Brown was a major advocate of the Tesla brand and frequently posted videos praising its Autopilot function. After the accident Tesla issued a statement calling him “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission,” before offering sympathies to his family.

In the months following the crash, Tesla released a revised Autopilot system as part of its Hardware 2.0 update. Statements from late 2016 made by CEO Elon Musk seemed to suggest some of the changes made may have prevented the fatal accident.

The Brown family has not taken any legal action against Tesla and is still reviewing the NTSB report.

[Image: Tesla]

Officer acquitted in fatal Facebook Live shooting of black motorist

ST. PAUL, Minnesota —

A Minnesota police officer was acquitted of manslaughter Friday in the fatal shooting of a black motorist who had informed the officer seconds earlier that he was carrying a gun.

Jeronimo Yanez was also cleared of two lesser charges in the July traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb. Yanez testified that Philando Castile was pulling his gun out of his pocket despite his commands not to do so. The defense also argued Castile was high on marijuana and said that affected his actions.

Castile had a permit for the weapon. Prosecutors questioned whether Yanez ever saw the gun. They argued that the officer overreacted and that Castile was not a threat.

The case garnered immediate attention because Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed the aftermath live on Facebook.

Yanez, who is Latino, was charged with second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, though sentencing guidelines suggest around four years is more likely. He also faced two lesser counts of endangering Reynolds and her daughter for firing his gun into the car near them.

The jury got the case Monday, after just five days of testimony, evidence and arguments. The 12-member jury included two blacks. The rest were white. None were Latino.

Castile’s shooting was among a string of killings of blacks by police around the U.S., and the livestreaming of its aftermath attracted even more attention. The public outcry included protests in Minnesota that shut down highways and surrounded the governor’s mansion. Castile’s family claimed he was profiled because of his race, and the shooting renewed concerns about how police officers interact with minorities. Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton also weighed in, saying he did not think the shooting would have happened if Castile had been white.

Yanez testified that he stopped Castile in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights because he thought the 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker looked like one of two men who had robbed a nearby convenience store a few days earlier. Castile’s car had a faulty brake light, giving the 29-year-old officer a legally sufficient pretext for pulling him over, several experts testified.

Squad-car video played repeatedly for the jury shows a wide view of the traffic stop and the shooting, with the camera pointed toward Castile’s car. While it captures what was said between the two men and shows Yanez firing into the vehicle, it does not show what happened inside the car or what Yanez might have seen.

The video shows the situation escalated quickly, with Yanez shooting Castile just seconds after Castile volunteered, “Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me.” Five of the officer’s seven shots struck Castile. Witnesses testified that the gun was in a pocket of Castile’s shorts when paramedics removed him from his vehicle.

Prosecutors called several witnesses to try to show that Yanez never saw the gun and acted recklessly and unreasonably. But defense attorneys called their own witnesses to back up Yanez’s claim that he saw Castile pulling the gun and that Yanez was right to shoot.

After shooting Castile, Yanez is heard on the squad-car video telling a supervisor variously that he didn’t know where Castile’s gun was, then that he told Castile to get his hand off it. Yanez testified, “What I meant by that was I didn’t know where the gun was up until I saw it in his right thigh area.”

He said he clearly saw a gun and that Castile ignored his commands to stop pulling it out of his pocket. His voice choked with emotion as he talked of being “scared to death” and thinking of his wife and baby daughter in the split-second before he fired.

Prosecutors argued that Yanez could have taken lesser steps, such as asking to see Castile’s hands or asking where the gun was. After Castile told the officer he had the gun, Yanez told Castile, “OK, don’t reach for it then,” and, “Don’t pull it out.”

On the squad-car video, Castile can be heard saying, “I’m not pulling it out,” as Yanez opened fire. Prosecutors said Castile’s last words were, “I wasn’t reaching for it.”

Reynolds testified that she began recording the shooting’s aftermath because she feared for her life and wanted to make sure the truth was known. Defense attorneys pointed to inconsistencies in several of her statements.

Defense attorneys also argued that Castile was high on marijuana and said that affected his behavior. But a prosecution expert testified there’s no way to tell when Castile last smoked marijuana or whether he was high.

(Copyright ©2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)