Tesla Model S Autopilot Caused a Fatal Accident

On the 7th of May, a man named Joshua Brown, lost his life on the road when cameras on his Tesla Model S failed to detect a tractor trailer and hit it. The car was on an autopilot driving mode at the moment when the accident occurred.

tesla-truck-accident-explained

The entire story would be a simple car accident story, only if the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) didn’t get involved. What are they trying to do is to determine, whether or not the self driving car is safe.

Tesla S self driving car driver died

The driver of the car was a well known Tesla enthusiast, and a friend of the company, as they stated in the official notice. He used to upload videos of his Tesla and even some videos where he showed how Tesla autonomous driving saved his life.

There are no actual details about the accident, except the information that we could get from the Tesla Motors. They said that the incident happened on the divided highway with autopilot engaged. The tractor trailer drove across the highway 90 degrees to the model S. In that moment, neither the sensors nor the driver reacted appropriately and everything resulted in the fatal outcome. The car ran under the trailer and got its windshield and roof completely shared off.

Crashed Tesla model S

The car was found hundred feet from the accident, which tells us that it was moving really fast, and additionally the portable DVD player was found in the car which might have been a distraction for the driver.

This is not the first time that Tesla Model S had trouble seeing high trailers. Earlier this year, a driver reported that his Tesla Model S didn’t stop in front of the tractor trailer when it was summoned with the autonomous parking feature. We have no doubt that Tesla Motors engineers will find some kind of solution, with wider range sensors and better cameras, but we need to keep in mind that this is still the beta testing for that system. Here is the blog post about the accident on the official Tesla website.

Autonomous EV Cars

One should make a difference between “autonomous cars” and an “autopilot option” which Tesla cars have. Google is making a fully autonomous cars and this investigation may be a problem for them and companies that have “autonomous cars” as projects.

Autonomous cars are cars which don’t need any actual driver. They don’t need brake and gas pedals, steering wheels nor shifters. Tesla is not an autonomous car. It has an autopilot option which must be seen as an advanced version of cruse mode. You, as a driver must look at the road and take over if you need. It doesn’t matter if this system is in beta or a full version. You need to watch the road, for your safety and the safety of others. Planes have had autopilots since 1912 and people haven’t changed its use since then. It only serves as an assistant in driving.

Semi autonomous cars, or cars with an autopilot option are a new thing. Humankind was introduced with it, last year. News about the autopilot came as a shock, for the general population, and the drivers of Tesla cars likewise. Since it has been activated for the first time, the autopilot option had some minor flaws and it is not perfect. This is the first accident with the fatal outcome but its development mustn’t be stopped because of this. And this fatal outcome came after more than 130 million miles without any accident.

Every year 1.3 million people lose their lives in car accidents caused by human error, not an autopilot.

Fear from new things has been present in human behavior since the dawn of man. What would have happened if man stopped making fire when he first felt the burn?

They should have their investigation and maybe laws should be made to make people pay additional attention during their use of the “autopilot” option. Even Tesla Motors advice drivers to keep their hands near the steering wheel during the use of the autonomous drive option.

Pokemon GO Got Him Arrested – Almost

A couple of days ago, one police helicopter pilot followed a car for suspicious movement, called the backup and stayed tuned.

The car was moving really slow through the city without any noticeable reason. At least that reason could not be detected from the helicopter. So he followed it through streets thinking that the passengers of the vehicle are planning something devious. There were no cars in front nor in the back of that vehicle. Only a person under the influence could have driven that way or someone who is planning some robbery or other criminal act. The strangest thing was the trajectory and the absence of the obvious destination.

Major Highway accident Pokemon go

It was going through the main streets, small allies and even the occasional stops were strange – in the middle of the street, on the sidewalk of the empty street etc. He followed the vehicle like every other good officer and waited for the ground backup to arrive.

Backup arrived and caught the awkwardly moving vehicle in the middle of the quiet street near the lawn. The police officer got out of the vehicle, had a chat with the driver and reported back:”Driver is catching Pokemons”.

The incident occurred in a small neighborhood in Ontario, Canada.

Other incident happened on the open highway at the beginning of the month. 26-year-old Lamar Hickson allegedly stopped in the middle of the highway and caused the massive multiple-vehicle collision. His only excuse was:”when you want to catch them all, you gotta risk everything, therefore, I put my car in the recreation area and began tossing those balls”.

The incidents go on and on. Not only in the USA but across the pond too. In Brussels, police started fining Pokémon GO players with $60. They are doing that to ensure the safety of players and other traffic participants, including some bikers who were caught playing Pokémon while driving. Police reports are mentioning drivers and pedestrians in the same dangerous connotation. Why? We learn about traffic rules in the kindergarten and all those rules don’t matter as soon as you jump into that “virtual world”. You don’t see traffic signs, crosswalks, other people.

In spite of the fact that the app is very young, there were numbers of incidents reported to police across the whole world. Rumor has it that the game itself is available only in a couple of countries but that didn’t stop gamers from modding it and uploading it to the internet, making it available for everybody. Even my niece is walking around and swiping the screen.

So, nobody lives under the rock and we all know about that new trend of catching imaginative pets into imaginative balls. That game is made by Nintendo. It quickly became one of the most played and downloaded apps in the world, but this games played it wrong. Not because of the way of playing ( cheating / sitting not walking and hanging out with other people). That is the wrong way to drive. In Canada and every other place on the planet you are placing your and other drivers and pedestrians alike in danger, only by holding some communication device in your hands, while driving. The fines are big too. If you have A, B, C, D, E, F or G license and you are charged with “distracted driving”, the penalties are:

  • a fine of $490, if you are a good citizen and you don’t want to go to court.
  • a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket and you lose the case on the court.
  • three demerit points

If you are a beginner driver and you have G1, G2, M1 or M2 driving license, you will face the same penalties as the above, but you won’t receive any demerit points. Instead of that, you won’t be able to drive for 30 days if that is your first conviction, 90 if that is your second and you won’t be able to drive at all if that is your third conviction. Unless you redo the entire GLS program.

Until next time, drive safe and walk safe. Watch your surroundings and catch them all in parks or something.

Acura NSX -Porsche 911 GT3 – McLaren 12C Spider and Ideas Stealing?

Borrowing ideas is a normal thing, considering the fact that you cannot know everything (at least not all the time). That, and the sum of good and bad days push you to look at other creative people and simply steal (or learn) from them.

red Acura NSX similar to Porsche 911 GT3

Red Porsche 911 GT3

Following information is in boundaries of a rumor, having in mind that it’s coming from the unofficial source and it is an unofficial tale but it’s pretty interesting one.

Apparently, Honda’s engineers have their bad days like most of the mortals, and they like borrowing ideas and to learn. The word is, according to their project leader Nick Robinson, that they used at least two cars as their reference points while building their new-old supercar Acura NSX. They have used McLaren 12C and a Porsche 911 GT3. How did they do that?

Porsche 911 GT3 dashboard and steering wheel

Acura NSX interior dashboard steering wheel

For some unknown reason, if you are an engineer and you want to build a perfect car, you don’t want anyone to know that you are learning from the mistakes and successes of others. So, you want to go and buy the best car you can find, but anonymously. Maybe that adds some 007 style to the engineer’s life, I don’t know. The thing is, they didn’t want to be discovered. And they weren’t, for a good amount of time.

During the testing period, Acura’s engineers pushed the benchmark cars to their limits. So, naturally, they had to break something. Robinson emphasized that they had to return McLaren a couple of times in a warranty period and they didn’t suspect anything. But, Porsche had a black box system so they had some extra information. The black box stores information like engine data (over speed), gearbox data (early downshift), state of brakes and everything that they can use for diagnostics. The exact explanation on how did they find out that Honda has their vehicle is not yet published, but they did. When Honda had their car shipped back, they found the sticker under the engine cover, saying:”Good luck Honda from Porsche, see you on the other side”.

There is no way that black box has some option to memorize your position so the black box itself couldn’t have been used for the positioning purposes. This is only speculation, but the GPS data was the only way they could find out who the real owner was. They must have looked at the GPS data because of the unusual measurements inside the black box.

The unusual data was the style of driving and speed. Who else drives the Porsche 329km/h? That was the question Porsche engineers wanted to ask Honda’s representatives as soon as they peeked inside the black box. And on which track, since the top speed hits the roof at 310 km/h?

Basically, this cannot be considered as a corporate espionage and it is an awesome way to show that people don’t have to fight over some stupid things as these. This world would be a much better place to live in, only if we had more people like those engineers. They could have made some kind of a booby trap for Honda, but they chose to play fair and to act like gentlemen.

Acura NSX Technical Specs and Engine Porsche 911 GT3 Technical Specs and Engine

What exactly did they want to do with McLaren and Porsche?

Porsche 911 GT3 is a track focused car with the engine sitting very low on the back. Ideal for motorsport – 4.0 liter flat six engine with 368KW (500HP), 0-100 km/h 3.3 sec, top speed 310 km/h, fuel consumption 12.7 l/100km

McLaren 12C Spider – twin turbo DOHC V8 engine, 460 KW (616 HP), 0-100 km/h 3.3, top speed 329 km/h (204 mph), fuel consumption 11.7 l/100km

yellow McLaren 12C Spider

Honda Acura NSX – twin turbocharged DOHC V6 on the rear wheels and two electric motors on the front wheels, Maximum total system power 427 KW (573 HP), top speed 307km/h (191 mph), fuel consumption 11.2 l/100km

When we analyze all three vehicles we could assume that Porsche was the benchmark for the steering technology, since it has a low center of gravity, just like the NSX, and Spider could have been there because of the engine calibrations. We will never know that. All we have is this interesting tale to tell our children. Or forget it in T minus 1sec.