The government inspectors say that in the minutes driving up to the collision, Brown was audibly informed six times to keep his hands on the steering wheel. He was also notified visually, seven times, on his Tesla’s dashboard.
In all, Brown had his hands off the steering for 90% of his final drive, according to Tesla vehicle data reviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB on Monday released a roughly 500-page report describing the facts of the case but declined to provide a final analysis or judgment since the investigation is ongoing.
Held in the evidence are details about the highway where the crash happened, both vehicles involved and, crucially, behavioral information from the Tesla that drops light on Brown’s activities immediately before the accident. The case is being strictly watched because the outcome of the investigation could affect customer attitudes toward Tesla, automation and self-driving technology in special.
Brown’s final drive in his Tesla lasted 41 minutes, according to the NTSB. Of these 41 minutes, 37 were spent with the autopilot enabled. Autopilot is Tesla’s term for its high-end cruise control feature that can maintain a vehicle stay in its lane semi-autonomously. The company refused to comment on the report.
Tesla requires its drivers to keep their hands on the wheel even when Autopilot is interlocked. But Brown appears to have ignored those warnings, even as he manually raised the autopilot’s speed 2 minutes before he smashed into the truck, according to the NTSB report.
Earlier reports by NTSB on the crash have presumed that in addition to going hands-free for the majority of the trip, Brown also made no attempt to brake, steer or otherwise avert the deadly accident.
Since the crash, those statements have said, Tesla has updated its Autopilot feature to include a strikeout system, whereby drivers who frequently ignore safety warnings risk having their Autopilot disabled until the next time they start the car.
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