By on July 1, 2016

2013-Tesla-Model-S-Rear

Details emerging from the May 7 crash involving a Tesla Model S driving in Autopilot mode paint a confusing picture.

Yesterday, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration opened a preliminary investigation into the crash and the vehicle’s technology, prompting Tesla to defend itself and admit that the vehicle’s autonomous driving system didn’t recognize a tractor trailer crossing the lanes in front of the Model S.

The victim, identified as ex-Navy SEAL Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, died after his 2015 Model S collided with the truck at an intersection in Williston, Florida. The Tesla’s Autopilot failed to slow the vehicle, causing the car to ride under the truck’s trailer at highway speed, shearing the roof off. 

The driver of the truck was identified as Frank Baressi, 62, owner of Okemah Express LLC. The company is comprised of a single truck and trailer.

A note in that day’s Levy County Journal describes the circumstances of the crash using information provided by the Florida Highway Patrol.

The FHP said the tractor-trailer was traveling west on US 27A in the left turn lane toward 140th Court. Brown’s car was headed east in the outside lane of U.S. 27A.
When the truck made a left turn onto NE 140th Court in front of the car, the car’s roof struck the underside of the trailer as it passed under the trailer. The car continued to travel east on U.S. 27A until it left the roadway on the south shoulder and struck a fence. The car smashed through two fences and struck a power pole. The car rotated counter-clockwise while sliding to its final resting place about 100 feet south of the highway. Brown died at the scene.
Charges are pending.

In its response, Tesla claimed, “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”

The automaker claimed this is the first fatality to occur involving a Tesla vehicle driven in Autopilot mode. It’s also being touted in the media as the first death of an occupant of a driverless vehicle.

Bizarrely, Brown — a Tesla enthusiast who nicknamed his vehicle “Tessy” — posted a video in April that showed his vehicle’s Autopilot avoiding a collision with a truck. The video shows the Model S swerving to prevent contact with a boom lift truck that unexpectedly moved into Brown’s highway lane. In that incident, the vehicle’s emergency warning chime sounded, alerting the driver to the danger and compelling him to take control, and the automatic steering responded to the lane intrusion.

Following the fatal crash, the truck’s driver claimed the victim had been watching a movie on the Tesla’s media screen at the time of impact.

Baressi told the Associated Press that Brown was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen,” adding, “It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road.”

The driver claims that he heard the movie playing, but didn’t actually see it on the vehicle’s screen. Tesla claims the vehicle’s touchscreen isn’t capable of playing videos.

In his comments, Baressi implied that Brown was speeding, claiming the Tesla “went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.” The speed limit on that stretch of highway is 65 miles per hour.

A check of Baressi’s driving history shows that the Palm Harbor, Florida owner/operator has been cited several times in the past year-and-a-half for failure to comply with maintenance standards, Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, and traffic laws.

His record shows two unsafe driving violations — a failure to obey a traffic control device in Virginia in March, and an improper lane change in Connecticut in January 2015. Two vehicle maintenance violations were issued in Maryland in May 2015 (for unsafe tire depth and an inoperable lamp), and three HOS violations were recorded in Virginia in January of this year. Those violations included driving beyond a 14-hour duty period and having a record of duty status that wasn’t current.

The crash occurred at 3:40 p.m. on May 7, so the sun would have been hitting the side of the trailer facing Brown’s eastbound vehicle. Weather reports from the area show sunny skies and temperatures in the low to mid 80s. Brown’s car crested a slight rise as it approached the unsignalized intersection, so it’s possible that rising heat from the roadway and glare obscured his vehicle from the truck’s position when the decision was made to turn.

Regardless of whether the truck driver was at fault, the failure of the Autopilot to detect and respond to the danger is a huge blow to the automaker and the reputation of its safety-minded technology. Earlier this week, a video emerged that showed a Tesla Model S recognizing a pedestrian in front of the vehicle but repeatedly failing to brake while driving in Autopilot mode.

[Associated Press, Levy County Journal, Electrek]

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198 Comments on “Tesla ‘Autopilot’ Crash Victim Identified as ex-Navy SEAL; Trucker Claims Victim Was Watching a Movie...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Autonomous cars = bad idea.

    • 0 avatar

      The only problem I have with autonomous cars is that Tesla didn’t put radar sensors in the windshield or back windshield in order to cover the height of the vehicle .

      Tesla model S could wreck itself by trying to drive into a garage where the garage door is halfway up and it’s bumper sensors don’t understand that .

      This is part of the reason why I believe autonomous vehicles can never replace humans until artificial intelligence is intelligent enough to pass the Turing test .

      Tesla will continue to experiment and they will eventually get it 99% right and I really would appreciate having an autonomous driving system for those long highway drives on the I-95 or I 280.

      But for right now I’m not willing to risk my life in the hands of SKYNET.
      I have more faith in myself even with my habitual speeding then I do placing my faith in modern day computers and sensors .

      Human drivers – as fallible as they may be – still have the ability to anticipate upcoming events better than any computer does .

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Right. Because change is scary. Never mind the statistics showing that fewer deaths per mile driven in autopilot mode than normal driving – that’s just science stuff, which is also scary.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatist

        That’s sort of cherry picked statistics. The self driving cars in test have so far been limited to “friendly” situations. Well marked roads, good GPS reception, DETAILED internal maps (showing every lane marker etc.). Weather conditions are good,no anomalies like construction zones etc.

        In other words, far from real world conditions.

        • 0 avatar
          wave54

          Exactly! These cars have not been tested in a wide variety of situations where roads lack lane markings or are in less than optimal condition. How about curvy, bumpy rural roads that have no lines and are barely wide enough for two cars to pass?

          I’d love to know how autonomous cars will handle tough weather conditions like snow and ice without the judgment of a human. Drivers handing control over to a computer will be disastrous. The ambulance chasers are surely cheering.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        VoGO – I better take control of my car and be responsible for my actions than sit there and hope that autopilot will not malfunction.

        So far, everything goes as I predicted. Automated cars will start kill people and lawyers will go after manufacturers. Manufacturers eventually will drop the idea.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Slavuta,
          No one is suggesting you do otherwise. I have never suggested people should not take responsibility for their actions, esp. driving.

          But I’m also not afraid of autonomous vehicles, because I envision all the productivity they’ll free up, once they start driving better than the average human.

          We’re not quite there yet.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            “I envision all the productivity they’ll free up…”

            Most people will do what they already do when driving or stopped at an intersection: check Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, albeit more safely.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            VoGO, what are you talking about, what productivity? Look, I don’t even have to drive today – working from home. And how sitting here and talking to you improves my productivity? If you can do something in car, you can do it at home. Besides, people need a break or thinking time. I used car time to learn foreign language and very successfully. You can drive and listen to books on audio if there is no time to read. I meditate while driving. After work, 10 minutes of meditation takes away work-related mind arousal and when I come home, I feel like do home related tasks instead of feeling tired.

            And besides all the dangers related to traffic, how autonomous cars will mediate broken roads? I don’t drive over imperfection, guiding my car between them. Also, wet surface. Sometimes there is layer of water but sometimes on the sides there there is 3inch deep spot that will cause hydroplaning.

            To me, this is only matter of rime when manufacturers will drop the idea of fully autonomous cars. We can’t solve much simpler problems.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            VoGo…so then the question really is why did Tesla call it what they did?
            I t seems a consumer misdirection and will end up being misleading on their part.

            It should never have been labeled as such until it was truly tested in all conditions.
            Gravel, poorly defined roads, wet, heavy snow conditions…everything should have been tested and data backed.
            Right now it is a beta release and the drivers are the mice….

            I mean, knowing people and especially the Blind Faithful following Musk this is just to great a piece of bait.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Slavuta,
            If you truly have no clue about the productivity that will be released by autonomous vehicles, then you’ve never given a second’s thought to how all that stuff gets on the shelves of the local Walmart, grocery store and mall.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well, yeah, VoGo, when stuff like this happens, it’s scary. I’m genuinely afraid of my car going under a trailer at 65 mph and being decapitated.

        Clearly this tech isn’t ready for prime time yet.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        I will admit that yes, science stuff scares me. Autonomous autos being one and smart phones in the hands of drivers is another. The cell phone thing is dangerous and out of control. A girl in NJ was just indicted yesterday for running down and killing a school superintendent and his dog while she was on her cell phone.

        Ever notice when you’re in a busy area and a traffic light turns red, as everyone comes to a stop, most everyone’s head immediately drops down to look at their lap where the cell phone it located. It’s amazing that people are so addicted to their “science stuff”.

        I’ve had one serious accident where an idiot on his cell phone blew a red light and T-boned me…..and several more near misses.

        Yeah, “science stuff” scares me…..when it’s actually killing people.

        • 0 avatar
          SatelliteView

          With the same logic, car is a science stuff, and you seem to be addicted to it. Stop driving, and stop endangering yourself. The less science in your life – the better.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Unless we force everyone to use auto pilot, I don’t see a significant reduction in traffic fatalities resulting from this technology. Plus, what about the poor? How well is the auto pilot going to work on a 14 year old Tesla maintained by some broke ghetto person?

      Aside from that, traffic fatalities are already way down from 30 years ago anyway due to safer vehicles, stricter DUI laws, and, increasingly, automated red light and speed cameras. We should focus more on driver education and training than crap like this. We’re already becoming too slow and too stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        A fully autonomous transportation system would be a massive boon to affected humanity. The number of hours people spend rotting away on commutes and other non interesting drives, is staggering. The path from where we currently are, to there, will inevitably have both up and downsides, though.

        • 0 avatar
          deanst

          We already have a technology which allows you to ignore the demands of driving – it’s called mass transit.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “We already have a technology which allows you to ignore the demands of driving – it’s called mass transit.”

            Sure, just accept the trade-off; you swap the demands of driving for adhering to someone else’s scheduling and for stink, mortal peril and the loss of any happy delusions you may have had about the nature and future of our society.

            Your location may differ but just give it time.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            I know about mass transit. We just need to improve it, so it will pick you up in your garage according to your personal schedule. And deliver you to the doorstep of your destination, without any more ado or complications. Which is exactly what autonomous car technology is all about.

      • 0 avatar
        SatelliteView

        How can you insure his 14 year old brakes are well maintained? What about tires?

        • 0 avatar
          kuman

          Actually if autonomous driving works perfectly. I would definitely want one.

          So i can drive when i want to, and leave the traffic jam to the cars to deal with.

      • 0 avatar
        kuman

        Yeah. Should autonomous system be available, then it should be standardized and mandatory on inner city roads and national highways. It will only functions in those areas only as well.

        Even better still. All the cars too should be standardized according to their types. Interiors is the only differentiators between brands.

        All of them would be on rent basis and cannot be modified or owned by individual. During off hours it will taken itself for maintenance and checks at least once a week.

        That way. All the cars would behave very similarly. Both decision making wise through the nature of the ai and pyshically through the laws of physics

        There. I wouldnt mind this.

        • 0 avatar
          JD23

          I’m assuming you would like such thinking applied to all aspects of life?
          Everyone wears the same government issued uniform.
          Everyone eats the same government issued meals.
          Everyone lives in the same standardized government housing, which cannot be modified by the renter – there will be no owners – in any fashion.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “I’m assuming you would like such thinking applied to all aspects of life?”

            Why would or should it be? He’s just talking about uniform standards for performance and maintenance in a shared inventory of networked rental appliances.

            I don’t want any individual creative flair in a chain saw or welder I rent and they’re far less capable of sudden catastrophic damage than a car (accidental, anyway:-) nor are they required to communicate with others like themselves as would be AVs.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            “Why would or should it be? He’s just talking about uniform standards for performance and maintenance in a shared inventory of networked rental appliances.”

            The term “all of them” used by the OP implies the complete elimination of personal transportation.

            An even stronger case can be made for the standardization of meals:
            – The US has a semi-nationalized healthcare system with costs that are spiraling out of control.
            – The US has an obesity rate that has been steadily increasing for 50 years.
            – Americans clearly cannot be trusted to select the type and quantity of their food, necessitating a central authority to make such decisions.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            OK, let’s do it. I’ve got some great ideas for healthy yet tasty carb choices.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            The politburo has already appointed me Minister of Shelter and Nourishment. With an appropriate display of loyalty, I would consider you for Deputy Undersecretary of Nourishment. Kuman has already appointed himself Minister of Transportation and Public Safety.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Hell, I’d take People’s Inspector of Kitchens if I can have whatever banquet leftovers I find in the warmers.

            There is no prime rib like free prime rib!

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      They said the same about regular cars too. Don’t be a Luddite. The blame here is with a product being deployed on the public despite not being ready for public use. A big problem but not an indictment of the technology’s viability.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        OK, sporty, I get the idea that technological viability is a moving target, and that it improves.

        But, I’m sorry…I don’t buy that a car would ever be able to drive itself in the real world better than a human can, unless the “technological viability” here includes a computer that thinks and problem solves as well as humans do.

        And I don’t need to tell you what kind of implications that kind of technology has – it goes substantially beyond a car being able to drive itself. We’re the dominant species on this planet because of our intelligence. What happens when something more intelligent comes on the scene?

        I have faith in technology as long as it’s not in charge.

        • 0 avatar
          SatelliteView

          Here is why your thesis is wrong from the get-go: you suppose that humans are very intelligent.

          I have watched all of the episodes of aircrash investigator. 18 out of 20 crashes are due to a human factor and not technology

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      This morning a gentlemen in an SUV merged into my lane on the freeway, requiring me to either brake and quickly swerve into the fortunately empty lane next to me, or to allow a larger vehicle to impact my own.

      I chose the former, which is one of the many decisions that brought me to arrive at this blog comment.

      Upon passing the oblivious gentlemen a few moments later, I noticed he had a nice pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones on his crown.

      I can see where you are coming from, but there is a strong case to be made that the lowest-common denominator of motorist could benefit from this technology, in its current form, right now.

      An aside: is it legal to wear headphones while driving? And if not, what the hell?

      • 0 avatar
        JD23

        “An aside: is it legal to wear headphones while driving? And if not, what the hell?”

        This is the most annoying driving trend I have observed over the past few years. The absolute worst drivers execute the imbecilic combination of wearing headphones and staring at a phone while driving.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          It’s the price to pay for Ricky Retardo, feelgood laws like “fines” for cell phone use, instead of coming down like a ton of bricks (literally, perhaps) for engaging in truly dangerous behavior, while otherwise leaving people alone.

          There is no reason whatsoever why changing lanes without blinking, and hitting someone unless they make an evasive maneuver, should be treated differently than opening fire on someone with an AR in such a manner he would get hit unless he ducked.

          Cellphones, earphones, autopilot, whatnot, has nothing to do with it. They’re all nothing more than childish nanny state silliness allowing the useless to pretend they are somehow less so. Like almost all laws, harassing those who do nothing particularly wrong, so that little-miss-wishy-washy can feel something about “not being too hard on the guy who just made a mistake” blah, blah….

          • 0 avatar
            cackalacka

            “Cellphones, earphones, autopilot, whatnot, has nothing to do with it.”

            I should add that one of the items I was pressing when I made my split second move was my horn.

            The nanny state has mandated that I be required to don prescription lenses for my vision. Am I a nanny-statist for suggesting that it should be illegal for motorists to render themselves deaf when operating a 5200 lb vehicle?

          • 0 avatar
            SatelliteView

            Oh.mine.god. what an ignorant post. In my opinion, you’re just a very paranoid person. If everyone possessed your mentality, we’d live like Amish

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I’m all in favor of greatly increasing the punishment for those who harm others on the road, but I’m not quite ready to accept that cutting a guy off in traffic is equivalent to shooting at him. Maybe in another year or two.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          This should ABSOLUTELY be made illegal. No reason ever to have headphones on while driving. I see this as well.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Have you heard how bad some factory stereos are, and how difficult it can be to replace them with the $300 worth of equipment that would sound much better?!

            I can’t actually imagine wearing headphones in public; whether driving, cycling, or even walking. I don’t even like the loss in awareness if I have to put my hood up on my rain jacket during a walk.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      Autonomous cars = bad idea.

      True.

      But people driving cars is even worse.

      Word on the street is that this guy was watching a portable DVD player. Do you feel safe with people like that on the road? Heck, people drive distractedly in cars without ‘autopilot’ features. If you stuck the average driver on a motorcycle where the concequence for stupidity is much more likely to be death, we’d cull the herd significantly.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      moronic statements are moronic

  • avatar

    How long till Alex Jones channel declares this as a plot by the government to kill off Navy SEALs ?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Overselling technology that can kill you is not a great idea. The tech mentality of releasing things before they are ready doesn’t work well for cars.

    I won’t be surprised if the FTC steps in and requires Tesla to stop calling it “Autopilot.”

    • 0 avatar

      Autopilot will result in more that 90% fewer fatalities then the record of human drivers any given time span.

      I have more than enough problems driving with these idiots, drunks, halfway sleep, texting, can’t-drive-fast-in-a-straight-line-communist core in public school learned- morons on the road .

      I would place my money on Tesla .

      Already have in fact …

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Well, at least you don’t have an agenda behind making up statistics and rambling aimlessly. Good to know, in fact.

      • 0 avatar
        orenwolf

        BTSR, you get kudos from me for the fact that you’re an investor. I’m not unless you count my $1k Model 3 reservation.

        Anyone who’s ever had any sort of emergency system come on and save them from themselves can see clearly where automation can help save lives. We know definitively today that this is already happening.

        Also, it’s not like we haven’t had automation for years. Cruise control has been around forever and still 1) most people know you can brake to turn it off (same with autopilot), and 2) dump people die from being dumb while cruise control is on.

        Automation increases the temptation to ignore the road. Until we have full automation, the systems that ensure the driver is paying attention should be robust. Make sure the hands are on the wheel and responding. *Drivers* are still causing these accidents due to inattention.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Tesla isn’t the first company to fall victim to its hubris, nor will it be the last. I agree with your that ‘autopilot’ was a stupid name. Kind of like ‘Monostable’

      • 0 avatar
        kefkafloyd

        Autopilot (or, to be more technical, the flight director) on a plane won’t prevent you from flying your aircraft into a mountain, despite GPWR chimes blaring in your ears.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Teslas are consumer products, and the FTC takes a dim view of names that promise benefits that can’t be delivered, particularly where health or safety are involved.

          • 0 avatar
            kefkafloyd

            What does the FTC think of Hertz’s “NeverLost” name for their GPS systems, despite the fact that you could, in fact, get lost if you don’t know how to operate it or if the device’s maps do not match reality?

            “Autopilot” as a trademark for automation features is fine, I think, but I am not a trademark lawyer. It does what it says on the tin (especially because the tin says “THIS IS NOT A DRIVERLESS CAR YOU MUST STILL KEEP YOUR HANDS ON THE WHEEL AND PAY ATTENTION.” But it will have flaws and be imperfect and unfortunately people will die because of it, just like people die because their meat brains aren’t paying attention to the road.

            All automation has flaws because they’re created by flawed humans and those flaws are paid for and fixed by the blood of their operators and passengers. This is the reality of automated planes, trains, and automobiles.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            NeverLost isn’t going to kill you or compromise your health.

            For example, the FTC went after margarine producers that claimed that their products were “Heart Smart” and the like. One case: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/1996/11/promise-margarines-get-heart-smart-campaign-targeted-ftc

            Puffery is allowed in advertising, but deception is not. One can claim that you have the best tasting/smelling/looking product in the world/America/Peoria/the galaxy/whatever because the customer is supposed to know that it’s marketing. But using a name that suggests that the car is autonomous when it isn’t is deceptive, no matter how many caveats are offered.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        True, VoGo, but there’s a big difference between the “hubris” of a new Windows OS that goes all blue screen of death, and an actual death that happens when a car drives itself under a semi trailer at 65 mph.

        • 0 avatar
          56BelAire

          PCH101…..good post. But I have a tongue-in check question.

          Are half full bags of chips and cereal….puffery or deception?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Tongue in Check?

            When you go down on someone, are they coming into money?

          • 0 avatar
            Rick T.

            Neither. Sold by weight, not volume.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Sold By Weight, Not By Volume
            Contents May Have Settled During Shipping
            Objects In the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
            Contents May Have Shifted During the Flight
            Your Mileage May Vary

            These are words to live by.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Lol @ Mike. Love it when people try to minimize gross issues, almost as fun as watching VW fanbois blaming GM ignition switches every time a new development arose in the VW scandal. Redirection and obtusivly minimizing issues is not a real retort. Its an “I have no where else to go” ploy.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Kind of like when people flail about with “free speech” when their opinions are challenged. As Randall Munroe says, it’s like the ultimate concession; the best thing you can say to support your point of view is that it’s not illegal to express.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      The technology didn’t kill him, he killed him. This is no different than setting cruise control and driving off a cliff.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Yes it is. Cruise control doesn’t do anything but hold the throttle in position. It especially doesn’t have a deceptive name like “Autopilot.”

        It’s funny how if any other automaker puts out a product or feature which turns out to be problematic, they get slammed for “using their customers as beta testers,” but when Tesla does that very thing they’re “brilliant and innovative.”

        Cars aren’t smartphones, people. You can’t just push out a half baked feature (especially one with a misleading name) and just say “if it doesn’t work out we’ll fix it in an update.” The cost of failure is so much higher.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      How true. Cars are definitely a technology that can kill us and is being oversold to us.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Heh.. that boom truck driver was GONNA make his exit no matter what.

    “It’s my last f*cking call of the day! Slow yer ass down and let me in!”

    Assuming he saw the ground-hugging turd at all.

    • 0 avatar

      As a Tesla shareholder this is what I believe they should do :

      #1. Like Cadillac: install a 360° digital camera in the car that allows recordings of the last 30 seconds and possibly the forward 30 seconds of an accident .

      #2. Along with that camera tesla should install radar sensing in the upper level of the car front and back windshield . Sway the car consents low objects that the bumpers cannot .

      #3. Tesla should partner with a large insurance company in order to offer drivers with fewer accidents better rates and in order to help mitigate incidents – resolving them quickly and silenty.

      It is disappointing and astounding that every single incident with a Tesla results in a massive viral news campaign with all of these “automotive journalist” trying to get as many views as possible for their editorials ???

      HOW MANY people died yesterday and most pathetic Soul-less econoboxes imported from Japan? Or those environmentally unsound diesel cheats from VW?

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I’d pay good money to watch you go to a TSLA shareholders meeting and share all your insights with them.

        Although watching DW interview Cadillac brass would top all.

        • 0 avatar

          I get invited to TESLA meetings when they have them here in Manhattan.

          I don’t think you understand the level I’m on buddy.

          Don’t let my “craziness” fool you.

          It’s all for the Youtube dollars.

          In reality, I’m a perfectly-grounded, highly-educated, wealthy, home-owning, gun-owning, fiscally-conservative (except when it comes to racecars) Black Republican business-owning, job-creatin’, Trump-supporter who absolutely despises the Welfare State.

          I just put on a suit, go there, sit there quietly, look dignified and no-one knows who or what I am. If they only knew I got into Tesla under $30 when everyone else said I was waisting my money…

          WHAT ARE THEY TO SAY NOW?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            You forgot humble.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Large Lorry,

            C’mon, we gotta know…

            Do you shout HELLCAT at them Teslites? Just to see ’em scatter?

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            ….waisting my money…

            Highly educated? Please tell me that was just a typo created in the heat of the moment.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “no-one knows who or what I am”

            Never thought I had anything in common with Teslites.

          • 0 avatar
            islander800

            You lost me completely at “Trump-supporting”. You seemed to be making sense until that admission.

            Any thinking human being would shun that toxic pit of self-serving authoritarian bombast and ignorance…

          • 0 avatar
            Dynasty

            @BTSR

            I like what you say. Imagine this though, if you were white you’d get driven off a cliff by all the bed-wetting liberals who read your “scary” comments.. Because that would really fit into their narrative. But being black, they don’t know what to think or say.

          • 0 avatar
            deanst

            Just curious – how do you define “highly-educated”?

          • 0 avatar
            Exfordtech

            You forgot to mention how big your hands are.

        • 0 avatar

          “humble”

          Someone tried to tell me that I needed to be “more humble” when I was at a beach resort last night.

          A female in her early 40’s who’s single, childless and actually buys into the Liberal’s de-emphasis of the man’s role as a father figure and provider while hyping the woman’s “freedom” to escape the home and enter the work environment.

          AND THEN THESE IDIOTS WONDER WHY DIVORCE RATES ARE SKY HIGH COMPARED TO ASIA and many ethnic groups who SHUN DIVORCE and maintain strong religious/fundamentalist controls on “the family structure”. They wonder why TRUMP INHERITED MONEY and they INHERIT NOTHING BUT DEBT. They wonder – on father’s day – WHERE IS MY DAD?

          Listen to the TIGER MOM. She knows what she’s talking about.

          So anyway…I roll my eyes at her, taking criticism from the other women at the table (all again, single/ divorced).

          I respond: “You sound like all those ridiculous motivational speakers trying to sell books like Kevin Trudeau.”

          In the back of my mind I’m thinking:

          I’m sure you’d drop all that nonsense if there was a dominating man around to shut you up and fertilize your near-worthless eggs and provide the other 23 chromosomes you need to further your self-important liberal-brainwashed philosophies.

          DARWINISM IS ALWAYS RIGHT!

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Man, someone had their Tony Tiger this morning!

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I feel terrible for the attractive, relatively young, free women who are pursuing their careers, hanging out at a beach club and enjoying life.

            Good thing you were there to remind them they should be barefoot, pregnant and chained to the kitchen. MAKE ME A SANDWICH, WOMAN!

            I almost forgot to ask, BTSR: how is your marriage going? Kids good?

          • 0 avatar

            Children, for me right now would be not only a WASTE OF MONEY that could be going to support FCA…but on top of that, I’m currently enrolled towards a PhD – taking initial courses – and I simply don’t have the time for kids.

            No pets. No kids.

            as for my girlfriend, she’s very happy and if she’s not she should leave so I can replace her with a 2016 model who’s more understanding.

            No divorce over here.

            No illegitimate “snow” children for me.

            My money is better spent on 93 Octane.

            MARRIED TO THE ROAD.

            I’ll probably end up marrying into one of those cultures where divorce is absolutely shunned and the man’s job is clearly understood as bread winner. I don’t mind a working wife. If she makes plenty of money that will be perfect cause she can drive some safe, soul-less econobox crossover while I use her money to fund my HELLCAT / TRACKHAWK addiction.

            Rotors, Brakes and tires ARE NOT CHEAP.

            Hand me the check – I’ll take care of the rest.

            Oh sure I’ll take you on lovely vacations around the world, just so long as you understand who’s in charge.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            You’re an interesting cat.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            LOL @ a manly anti-liberal man needing a govt mandate banning divorce to keep his wife from leaving him

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            No kids, BTSR? Let’s test your GoT memory:

            Your words will disappear.
            Your house will disappear.
            Your name will disappear.
            All memory of you will disappear.

          • 0 avatar

            VOGO

            RAMSAY BOLTON never recorded his flayings and Castrations (Theon), his rapes (Sansa) or murders on YOUTUBE.

            I guarantee the Theon, Sansa, Osha and dogs eating mother & child videos would have gone viral.

            By the way…when he put that arrow through that Stark boy’s heart…

            …absolute magic.

            Youtube videos last longer than any bloodline ever will.

            Long after I’m dead and my Hellcat is recycled into aluminum for a robot sex worker… my voice and exploits will live on as digital signals and storage space on someone’s Holographic drive.

            My speeding tickets will survive long after the burnout marks have been washed away.

            My court hearings and summonses will survive long after the photos of me doing 75 in a 25 zone are disintegrated.

            The long scar I leave on this planet will never heal.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You do you, BTSR.

            But don’t presume to tell the rest of us how to live our lives, or that you have all of life’s answers, or that those answers will work for everyone.

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t have to tell you anything.

            I will support Darwinistic policy that forces you to fight for every inch of space.

            You are in direct competition with us and you will not win.

          • 0 avatar
            56BelAire

            Big Truck……+100, love your style.

            Can we start calling you “The Black El Rushbo”?

          • 0 avatar
            fendertweed

            … sounds like a textbook example of a legend-in-his-own mind who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know … ;-o

            And who loves the CAP key (and the sound of his own voice) too much.

            LOL at the Darwinism and Big Balls Billy act, though. A Master Bloviator.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “You are in direct competition with us and you will not win.”

            Touchy, touchy. I wasn’t aware we were competing.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            BTSR was on fire today. Well done.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “No kids, BTSR? Let’s test your GoT memory:

            Your words will disappear.
            Your house will disappear.
            Your name will disappear.
            All memory of you will disappear.”

            As another with no kids, all I can say in response is “so what?” When I’m gone, I’m gone, I don’t give a s**t if anyone remembers me. I will be utterly incapable of caring about my “legacy.”

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “All memory of you will disappear.”

            Shyeah, like the people who would have those memories of you aren’t also going to disappear etc. etc. till the planet is a charcoal briquet.

            BTW, what the hey is “GoT” memory?

      • 0 avatar

        @BTR. Good suggestions.

        Add to that list of monitoring devices a cabin voice recorder, just like a plane.

        If a witness claims the driver was watching Harry Potter,the audio will confirm or refute the claim. (It does seem odd to me the driver of a truck over the noise of the truck at 65 mph could hear a movie soundtrack well enough to identify it without seeing the screen).

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          He wasn’t going 65 mph when he walked up to the crashed car after the wreck, as he mentioned.

        • 0 avatar
          zososoto

          @BTSR

          You are a successful man who is outspoken about his talents and opinions, despite them not lining up with the rest of the lemming herd. I don’t always (or very often at all) agree with you, but I value your perspective and your contributions to this board.

          It’s actually pathetic to see a good commentator like VoGo reaching to try to tear you down. For speaking your mind? For starting to make him realize that there’s nothing stopping him from living his life as he wants except his own insecurities and inability to break his social conditioning? Oh your life is empty because you didn’t breed? Sounds like a hater.

          To all of you: There are many women who would gladly take BTSR’s offer. Millions of women are still OK with traditional gender roles. My buddy just started dating a college student. He pays when they go out or when they order in, and she understands that when she comes over she’s going to spend some time in the kitchen washing dishes. He also let her know that she’s going to have to learn how to cook. She couldn’t be more pleased with the guy. While her male peers are sharing articles on facebook about consent, she’s finally with A REAL MAN (in her eyes). Someone not shy about placing a five fingered grab on her rear as soon as she walks through his door, to let her know they’re going from zero to sex in sixty seconds.

          If she doesn’t like it, she can leave.

  • avatar

    Best example of technology push: selling cars by adding a new gadget. The stupidest thing I heard is Faraday Future working on a 1000 hp electric car and autonomous drive. What’s the point of having that kind of power if you’re not the one to enjoy it by steering the car yourself?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Watching a movie? How the hell would he know that? Also, didn’t the truck turn in front of the Tesla? Wasn’t it the trucker’s fault, for failing to yield the right of way? I hope he goes to jail for awhile, and never drives a truck again.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      I think the investigation will show that it is legally the truck’s fault for making an unsafe turn.

      Autopilot still should have recognized the danger and stopped/attempted to stop the car. The driver still should have seen the trailer and slammed on the brakes. Neither of those things changes the fact that, at any unsignalized intersection, turning traffic must yield.

      Most of the truckers I talk to would call this trucker a scumbag already, for running with bald tires and two logbooks.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe Btfsplk

      I believe that the driver was napping and the Tesla was watching the movie.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      In the article, it mentions how the direction the Tesla was coming from had a dip and he had the sun behind him. It also takes a long time for a big truck to pull out, so when he started off (made the decision to “go”), it probably looked perfectly clear.

      Go drive a big truck, you’ll see what I mean. I’m no expert, but I do know that after you commit to something (like making a turn, pulling out, etc), it sure as hell isn’t as easy to abort or get the hell on out of the way like it is in a Honda Prelude or a Chevy pickup.

      In any other situation, the car driver would be been (hopefully) paying attention ahead of time and taken evasive action in time to avoid (or minimize) the collision, instead of clucking off and letting an unproven computer handle it.

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    …cue the NHTSA calls to reprogram all Teslas (Teslae??)to delete the autopilot software in 4….3….2…

  • avatar

    https://youtu.be/sXls4cdEv7c

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Tesla’s excuses for this incident are weak.

    Design limitations and driver acceptance aside, this is exactly the sort of accident I would expect Autopilot to save me from. Consequently, I expect a lawsuit by the family.

    They (Elon) need to learn that occasionally, silence is golden. Pushing back on fraudulent crash claims is one thing (Model X vs store front), but talking about glare and paint color only sounds trite and defensive. This further convinces me that I don’t want anything called “Autopilot” in my future Tesla.

    • 0 avatar

      Musk needs to hire the AI engineers behind this….

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/28/alpha_ai_waxes_air_force_top_guns_tail_in_dogfights/

      It is possible for AI to best human drivers/pilots. You just need great AI systems.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I’d argue that working within the constraints of Earth-bound roadways and close-quartered vehicles is harder than utilizing the 3 dimensions of the sky.

        But to your point, Tesla may now be looking to bolster its AI crew.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      What will damn Tesla here is the name of the feature. “Autopilot” implies capabilities that the car doesn’t have. Other automakers have similar tech (I drove a Passat Sportwagen with all of the bells and whistles) but they’ll b**ch at you if they detect your hands have been off of the wheel for more than 10 seconds or so.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Autonomous Cars = Good Idea

    Yeah yeah, most of us here quail at the thought. I almost had an anyeurism at the existential insult of using a backup camera in a rental car while parallel parking .

    I grew up in a city, GM. I don’t need your stinkin camera.

    BUuuuuuuuuut, we are car enthusiasts. We like cars enough to make sure we get the basics right, like not texting your pal at 80 MPH and looking before lane changing.

    Unfortunately the basics are beyond the abilities of most American drivers license holders today. While fatal, act of god wrecks will still happen , letting a computer drive the car for most folks means fewer fender benders and preventable fatalities .

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Tesla routinely over-hypes their products and under delivers. Doing so is kind of the Silicon Valley way (and I live there!).

  • avatar

    This is less about Tesla and more about a terrible trucker; an honestly uncommon animal. Most of the accidents you see on the news are sourced from the other vehicle involved and not the rig. The industry is subject to “dead-heading” regs (that’s what the biz calls driving past the standard reg-allowed hours, which transportation companies can allow to happen only a few times a month, legally), GPS tracking, driver logs, and all sorts of other regs you might think of, such as the aforementioned tire depth and the like.

    A reputable company would have never kept this guy as a contracted owner-operator. The big rig companies are absolutely terrified of accidents. Because litigation in the industry is so prevalent, and because judges almost always side against the “mean ole’ trucker”, deductibles alone can range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, to say nothing of what an accident does to premiums that would already make someone’s knuckles white. Two or three at-fault accidents within a short enough time span, and a firm suddenly can’t get coverage. Buh-bye business.

    At the company I worked at out of college, I was briefed on the safety culture, even though I was in the IT branch. I was impressed. The gentleman behind the desk explained he wouldn’t even let guys on the lot who had tiger teeth painted on their grills, and the like.

    “Okemah Express LLC” was probably headed by a cowboy or someone really short of cash, or maybe just an old-fashioned crook. The kind of guy who isn’t taking proper care of his rig is already a potential liability for everyone else on the road, and even more so because a reputable hauler likely wouldn’t contract him. As such, the money isn’t really there, but the guy wants to keep driving, the truck’s maintenance suffers, and since he hasn’t actually been in an accident, he gets to stay on the road, gambling he won’t get caught breaking enough regs to lose his operating license. Until one day, when he winds up in an accident.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      It’s no different than poor people that drive without insurance/license/registration. They’re mostly just trying to make it until they can afford to do it legally.

      Calling the trucker’s driving record into play kind of begs the question: why didn’t we hear about the Tesla “driver’s” last tickets/infractions?

      Truckers have it hard and they jump through a lot of hoops to help you live your comfortable middle-class life. The only way for trucking to continue as it is– is to have a constant supply of know-nothings with clean driving records available– because no one that’s been trucking for ANY length of time has multiple infractions on their license.

      My Father’s a trucker and has all kinds of sh1t on his record. From having to back out of loading docks (that dispatch knows aren’t fit for his truck to use) that aren’t engineered for trailers/rigs like his– to little cars basically just driving into him because they assume his truck can stop like a Civic– he’s been cited for them all. To be a trucker is to have a bad driving record.

      That man hasn’t had so much as a speeding ticket my entire (36 year)life– but once he became a trucker… trouble found him.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Good rant, except for the facts. All of this trucker’s infractions were within the last 2 years. That’s a lot of infractions in a short time period.

      • 0 avatar

        “My Father’s a trucker and has all kinds of sh1t on his record. From having to back out of loading docks (that dispatch knows aren’t fit for his truck to use) that aren’t engineered for trailers/rigs like his– to little cars basically just driving into him because they assume his truck can stop like a Civic– he’s been cited for them all. To be a trucker is to have a bad driving record.”

        I don’t buy that. The company I worked for fired guys who got in an accident, even in situations where the car following rear-ended them because they were stopping close, and the trucker had to suddenly stop.

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          You don’t buy it? I’m not sure I was trying to sell you anything– just to tell you my own ‘bad’ truck driver story.

          Do you not buy that my Father is still employed with what I’m openly calling a bad truck driving record? Do you not believe that I’ve heard his stories of clipping embankments, power poles and Hondas?

          I’m almost sure I have!

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            While truckers spend a lot of time on the road, none of us are buying the idea that the number and level of infractions on this trucker’s record in the last 2 years is normal or reasonable.

            This doesn’t mean that your father is a bad person, or that you don’t love him.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog


        It’s no different than poor people that drive without insurance/license/registration. They’re mostly just trying to make it until they can afford to do it legally.

        You say that, but look at all the uninsured drivers who have enough money to go get drunk at a bar before they crash into a family of 5 going to a ball game.

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          You’re being obtuse, yamahog.

          Most human beings do as good and well as they can manage. They make up the larger portion of the people you’ll meet. I’m from Alabama, a place where insurance wasn’t even required until the 21st century. The roads weren’t red with the blood of the innocents– they were normal and grey. Insurance doesn’t prevent property damage, accidents or injuries. It only pays for them if they happen.

          The trucker intended to cross the road. Suppose this is where it gets sticky– he intended to cross the road with the blessings of opposing traffic. We’ve all done that. Generally it is successful.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    Autonomous Cars = Good Idea

    Until something doesnt work as designed.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The fact that the victim was a Navy SEAL is irrelevant, but useful for media bias.

    If it had been Righ Guy and “most hated man in America” Martin Shkreli, the sympathies would be different.

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    Couple of questions to think about

    Would a human in that situation hit the brakes and avoided or minimized the accident? From the descriptions,probably yes.

    Was this guy sufficiently tech savvy to understand the limitations of this toy? Again, probably yes.

    But still this happened.

    • 0 avatar
      aajax

      Yes, this accident seems particularly horrendous because it is one that probably would not have happened except for the self-driving feature. But then, we almost never hear of the lives saved by the feature or the accidents that didn’t happen. We humans are bad at assessing risk purely on the basis of statistics.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        I find it odd that Tesla’s victim had previously attributed his surviving a near side-swipe from a medium duty truck to his autonomous car only to die because of his autonomous car. Nobody championing the wiffle-ball-safe nanny-state utopia of autonomous vehicles has been killed by driving their conventional cars. Most people survive sideswipes. Few survive decapitations like the one delivered by faith in Tesla’s autonomous technology.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          He seemed to be playing with the system, trying to find its limits. Obviously a stupid thing to do.

          It’s the same idea as testing ABS at every stop, or testing ESP at every corner.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “Nobody championing the wiffle-ball-safe nanny-state utopia of autonomous vehicles has been killed by driving their conventional cars.”

          ha ha i laugh at that stupid! how u no that?

        • 0 avatar
          redrum

          “only to die because of his autonomous car”

          He died in spite of his autopilot, not because of it. Tesla may be found partially liable here due to the vagaries of the law, but they clearly state the driver must remain engaged and not simply “set it and forget it” (despite their poorly chosen name, which may end up costing them in court).

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            You seem to be missing the point that he wasn’t watching the road for a perpendicular tractor trailer because he thought his autonomous car was looking out for him.

          • 0 avatar
            redrum

            “because he thought his autonomous car was looking out for him”

            Then the driver is unambiguously at fault. The autopilot disclaimer quite clearly states the driver must maintain awareness. Even Elon Musk made this clear when the feature was introduced:

            http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-15/tesla-model-s-with-autopilot-isn-t-quite-look-ma-no-hands-yet

            “The hardware and the software are not yet at the point where a driver can abdicate responsibility,” Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said Wednesday during an event with journalists at the company’s Palo Alto, California, headquarters. “That will come at some point in the future, but it’s not the case today. These are still the early days.”

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            You’re right and wrong. Of course Musk said that the occupants of his cars must maintain awareness of their environment, but that’s not why people want autonomous cars. Is steering and braking too physically taxing for these lame drones? Probably not. They want the car to do it so they can direct their attention elsewhere, until they achieve their full potential as object lessons to other…early adopters.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’m not sure I’m willing to give up complete control of my car just yet. Ironically, BMW just announced (promised) to have a driverless vehicle by 2021 (a fleet…for use on both highways and urban environments).

    Their quote: “With this technological leap forward, we are offering our customers a whole new level of sheer driving pleasure, whilst pioneering new concepts for premium mobility.”

    “Sheer driving pleasure?” Wait, in 5 years BMW will be advertising themselves as the “Ultimate Riding Vehicle!” As a BMW enthusiast (well, not much after 1993 or so, mind you), this hurts!

  • avatar
    Joss

    Both parties are at fault. One party had superior technology buy not enough. Human arrogance.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Volvo has to be second-guessing their ‘no deaths in our cars’ claim for the future.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      @SCE to AUX – Volvo is not a fan of Tesla’s approach at all. They’ve been critical of it.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/20/luxury/volvo-no-death-crash-cars-2020/

        Volvo’s superior approach won’t matter much if even one person dies in their cars after 2020. There’s no way they can stand by that claim.

  • avatar
    aajax

    I don’t understand the highway patrol’s description of the accident. If the truck and the Tesla were in two different lanes, how did they make contact?

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Can you imagine the field day regulators would have if this were say a Toyota product? I mean they had NASA engineers on that non-existent “sticking accelerator pedal”.

    And here’s a manufacturer calling their feature “autopilot” and it gets someone killed.

    It will get nowhere near the scrutiny because its Tesla.

    At some point, Elon Musk is going to have to understand his products (and stock investments) don’t get special treatment because he’s “saving the planet”.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I wouldn’t say a NHTSA investigation is kid-glove special treatment, and it won’t prevent a lawsuit.

      Autopilot’s limitations are a major factor, but so is driver inattentiveness, and possibly speed. And perhaps the trucker has some blame, also.

      As I’ve mentioned her many times before, mfrs who claim or even hint at ‘autopilot’ capabilities are putting themselves at risk, and consumers will stop buying autonomous products if they can’t trust them.

      I’d like to know how many self-parking cars have had accidents at 1 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Except the pedal had an internal “shoe” to apply friction to the pedal arm and was shown that it could stick.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Like aviation, self driving cars are a technology that gives a lot of folks the creeps. This has little to do with actual risk since flying is lot less dangerous than driving but with familiarity and a perception of control. After all we are familiar with driving risks (high as they are) and we think we are in total control.

    In order self driving cars to gain acceptance we will need the equivalent of the NTSB investigating every malfunction and make public the findings. If manufacturers insist on internal investigations and secrecy then I see trouble ahead for the industry.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    I bet law school applications will increase after more of these autonomous killings get reported. Hint to current attorneys, if you see one of these cars, follow it.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    So who are we blaming?

    The car, which is a fashion accessory built by a company that cannot turn a profit yet nobody can say a bad thing about?

    Or are we blaming the driver who was watching a movie while driving?

    It would have been so much easier if this was a Chrysler product. Then it would clearly be Chrysler’s fault because….Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      Corollaman

      The whole concept of autonomous cars, tech is not nearly there and yet, they keep pushing it, like trying to send a man to the moon 3 yrs earlier.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Just look at some of the tragedies that occurred in the post Sputnik era until the moon landing. The most tragic is the 1967 launching pad explosion which killed three astronauts. Yet we persevere.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    So…failed to recognize tractor-trailer and drove right into it. Sounds like a machine being human.

  • avatar
    badtzmaru

    Nobody’s jumping on this: “The driver claims that he heard the movie playing, but didn’t actually see it on the vehicle’s screen”? He heard sufficient sounds over a ~2 sec period from another vehicle moving toward him at highway speeds to identify them as Potterisms?

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      The way I read it, the trucker claims to have heard the soundtrack playing from the Tesla’s wreckage after it came to rest.

      • 0 avatar

        Indeed.

        The fact the driver claims the driver was “watching” the movie but never actually saw it playing indicates to me he ’embellished’ the truth somewhat possibly to divert attention away from his actions and culpability.

        It could easily be an audio book playing. In the video clip of the same driver showing how his Tesla avoided a collision after a truck pulled in front of him I can hear what appears to be an audio book about John Hinckley playing throughout the clip.

        So we have video evidence the Tesla driver listened to what sounds like and audio book, and at the the scene of the fatality the truck driver heard (but didn’t see) Harry Potter playing after the vehicle came to rest.

        Seems clear to me the Tesla driver was listening to a Harry Potter audio book. That should be easy for the investigators to establish by examining the drivers audio book purchases.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          The whole Harry Potter thing appears to have been started by the first LEO on the scene where the car hit the telephone pole. He claimed it was playing as he approached.

          However a local resident arrived there before the LEO and said she heard no audio of any kind issuing from the wreck.

          Baressi probably heard of the LEOs report and crafted his shaky story but now under attorney’s advice or simple common sense has stopped making statements.

          I also saw one report where he claimed that upon his first spotting the Tesla it was in the left lane approaching him but moved to the right lane prior to impact.

          Any lane deviation at all obviously changes the entire narrative here.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Dead men tell no tales. 3 PM sun in June isn’t really all that low in the sky at any latitude in the lower 48, so I’m not a big fan of the blinded by the light theory out of the gate.

    Owner/operator trucker with what appears mostly a collection of small violations that we don’t have a lot of details on. Tires out of spec and going over his 14 hour limit are the most concerning of the lit. A light bulb out? Meh, not condemning a guy as a bad owner/operator for that. The other thing we don’t know for example was he 14 hours and 3 minutes, or was he 17 hours? Did the tire in question have some uneven wear and was an inspector being a bit of a jerk, or was it a bald retread.

    We also don’t know how fast the Tesla was going. After submarining under the trailer the relatively low Tesla had its roof sheared, but with damaged sensors likely just kept going until it crashed into enough things to stop. Just as a petrol powered car likely would have if it was set on cruise control.

    The truck driver said he didn’t “see” the movie playing but heard it – for all we know the guy was listening to the Harry Potter soundtrack on the stereo – the truth always lies in the middle.

    This story does provide us some information beyond the early versions. The vehicles were traveling in opposite direction on a 65 MPH four laner (not a limited access highway). The south is full of these types of roads with speed limits as high as 70 MPH (in places like Texas). Heck I’ve been on two-laners in Texas and Montana with speed limits of 70 MPH. The truck went to turn left across the travel lane of the side the Tesla was traveling. There is a rise in the road, that likely obscures the intersection (again reading from above). Meaning the trucker likely didn’t see the Tesla, the Tesla didn’t see the trucker. We don’t know if there are signs ahead warning of an intersection, blinking lights, rumble strip on the road to go, “hey, pay attention coming up,” as some of these 4 laners in the south have. We also haven’t heard if this intersection has a history of being dangerous.

    We generally know that in fatal accidents a disposition on what did or didn’t happen generally doesn’t come in the minutes or hours after. Tesla has a history of immediate defense of their technology and design in the minutes after anything makes the news. Sometimes they are right, other times (pierced batteries lacking enough armor to prevent intrusion causing car fires) they have been wrong. In PR, legal, and corporate affairs, it is generally frowned upon to come out swinging saying, “not it.” That’s the Tesla way – and their immediate response given an ongoing investigation, and likely not having all telemetry data helped push this into the news cycle.

    We know a video was released last week of auto pilot “seeing” a pedestrian but not doing anything about it. We know that features like auto pilot are relatively new, and are only as good as the software behind it. We also know that the operator of the Tesla had a incident he videoed with another 18 wheeler and auto pilot correcting for him. So he didn’t just have faith in the system, he was an early adopter evangelist.

    To the letter of the law, this certainly appears to be the fault of the truck driver – with what small amount of information us arm chair crash investigators have. The truck driver ultimately turned into traffic that had the right of way.

    With that said, so far it appears, but we don’t have the analysis, the Tesla never attempted to even slow down, and it appears the operator made no intervention. We can conclude that an 18 wheeler that would have to had to slow down to a very low speed to turn 90 degrees left on a 65 MPH black top, was able to get completely across the highway, and had all or just the trailer in some of the lanes – so the truck had time to cross – the Tesla had time to slow down. It may not have had enough time to slow to a stop, but this wasn’t looking at how the crash happened, “whoa 18 wheeler going 40 MPH just shot out in front of me, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” Based again, on what we know.

    So the other big question here is, “why did auto pilot fail,” because it appears it didn’t recognize the threat. Remember, this is the second incident in a week (not the first) where auto pilot didn’t see a threat, or saw it and did nothing. That’s the other part we don’t know. Did auto pilot sound a warning, like in the pedestrian video, but refused to act? Did the operator of the Tesla “trust” the system after his prior experience to the point of, “I don’t need to take over, it saved me last time,” only to end up in an accident?

    We know in aircraft the auto pilot is an auto pilot, and systems could be programmed to do things that result in loss of control, or a crash. Tesla auto pilot doesn’t work like an aircraft – auto pilot is really more semi-autonomous operation.

    If I was a Tesla owner, I would now be to the point of using auto pilot only on limited access highways. It appears that some kinks need to be worked out.

    If I was Mr. truck driver, I’d stop talking to the press, and I’d be talking to my insurance carrier about a good civil lawyer – and I’d be talking to criminal lawyers. He is going to need it.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Pretty good summary. I’m no fan of Autopilot, but the trucker has some explaining to do – through his lawyer.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Excellent post.

      To me, the most interesting piece of information will be the speed of the Tesla. That will be the determining factor in the fate of the trucker. The Tesla driver’s fate was sealed by his inattention.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “After submarining under the trailer the relatively low Tesla had its roof sheared,”

      So much for that “5.4 star” safety rating!

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    As a firmware engineer here’s my take: it takes a lot of real world testing like these accidents to know what works and doesn’t. Let’s be honest here, all software and hardware designs have bugs and limitations, some known and some unknown, and known unknown, unknown known, unknown unknown, known known. Horses in the old days know not to crash into stuff like cars with drunk drivers do today, but technology moves forward and we eventually retired horses and drive car today.

    I’d not be surprised in near future autonomous driving will only activate on “certified road”, only in the middle lanes, on highways, and maintain a distance of 3 seconds behind a human driven vehicle at speed limit, during day time, and the driver has to manually intervene every 30 seconds or it will deactivate.

    That’s until the rest of the road systems and vehicle population became wirelessly connected and autonomous.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    We should have been putting underride defenses on trucks for years.

    An accident similar to this took place near my home some years ago. The passenger car involved had its A-pillar sheared off but speeds were lower and the car stopped when the B pillar hit the side of the trailer. The driver may have survived, don’t know.

    This accident happened at night and headlights of other oncoming traffic probably helped prevent the driver from recognizing the danger. Still, underride defenses would have stopped the car starting with the bumper.

    A highly talented driver, recognizing the danger before it’s too late would do well to brake and aim for the tires. I don’t know if I’d have that much presence of mind.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Yes. Underride defense in the form of bumper level bars, covered in reflective tape.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      My understanding is we are one of the only industrialized nations that don’t have requirements for under ride side protection on semi-trailers.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        “My understanding is we are one of the only industrialized nations that don’t have requirements for under ride side protection on semi-trailers.”

        Such coddling is unacceptable to free-spirited Americans.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Interestingly, Volvo has had some harsh words for Tesla in the past as far as how they are developing Autopilot.

    “[In a Tesla] the driver is supposed to pay attention to the road in case of unexpected developments, but, as long as everything is going well, the car can keep itself in-lane and at the appropriate speed. But it’s those unexpected developments that can be the problem.

    “It gives you the impression that it’s doing more than it is,” says Trent Victor, senior technical leader of crash avoidance at Volvo, in an interview with The Verge. “[Tesla’s Autopilot] is more of an unsupervised wannabe.” In other words, Tesla is trying to create an semi-autonomous car that appears to be autonomous.

    Victor says that Volvo believes that [Tesla’s] Level 3 autonomy, where the driver needs to be ready to take over at a moment’s notice, is an unsafe solution…

    …Volvo’s…is a Level 4 autonomous car — this means not only will it drive itself down the road, but it is capable of handling any situation that it comes across without any human intervention. As a result, the human doesn’t need to be involved in the driving at all. If something goes wrong, the car can safely stop itself at the side of the road.

    “In our concept, if you don’t take over, if you have fallen asleep or are watching a film, then we will take responsibility still,” says Victor. “We won’t just turn [autonomous mode] off. We take responsibility and we’ll be stopping the vehicle if you don’t take over.” Unsaid here is that in its current “beta” incarnation… Tesla’s Autopilot can suddenly turn itself off if it gets into trouble, and the driver must take over immediately or bad things can happen…

    “That’s a really important step in terms of safety, to make people understand that it’s only an option for them take over,” says Victor. Volvo is “taking responsibility both for crash events, and we’re also programming it for extreme events like people walking in the road even where they’re not supposed to be. There’s a massive amount of work put into making it handle a crash or conflict situations.”

    It’s mostly a difference of autonomous design philosophy for Tesla and Volvo. Tesla believes drivers can be trusted to make the appropriate decision with regards to their vehicle while Volvo wants to keep the driver from even putting himself into the position of getting into trouble with its autonomous tech.”

  • avatar
    285exp

    It would seem that the system being unable to detect something as big as a tractor trailer rig is a huge problem, and based on the article, blaming it on a brightly lit sky is pretty sketchy. The car was driving east at nearly 5pm, the sun would be behind him, not in front.

    • 0 avatar
      redrum

      They’re blaming it on the sun glaring on the side of the truck’s trailer. Truck was headed west right into the sun and then turned left (south) which would mean the side of the trailer would be facing the sun.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        I wonder what “F*ck! I can’t see a goddamn thing!” looks like in binary.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          That would be:

          01000110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00100001 00100000 01001001 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 11100010 10000000 10011001 01110100 00100000 01110011 01100101 01100101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01100111 01101111 01100100 01100100 01100001 01101101 01101110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100001

  • avatar
    turf3

    All I can say is that unanticipated problems are the downfall of any system and the more complex the system the more of them there will be. If we could anticipate them, they wouldn’t be unanticipated.

    When failure takes the form of a 5000 lb missile at 60+ mph being inaccurately controlled, you better put some backups.

    Why don’t these cars at least have a deadman pedal?

  • avatar

    Not a big deal. It is just a SW bug. I have my server crashing every now and then in hands of customers – they call us, we investigate, fix the bug, issue the patch and life goes on. After year or so most bugs are fixed and product is pretty reliable. But we meanwhile work on a new product with new bugs, and we will fix the too and so it goes.

    I do not think it is Tesla’s fault – customer did not follow manufacturer’s recommendation. Tesla cannot fix all bugs or test all corner cases, edge conditions. For this observed failure bug report will be issued and this corner case will certainly be added to the Tesla’s QA test plan. Do you know how many people die in Africa every day? And they do not fix bugs.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Your server doesn’t decapitate someone when it crashes.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        If cars were like computers…

        For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

        Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

        Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason, you would simply accept this.

        Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

        Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive — but would run on only five percent of the roads.

        The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “General Protection Fault” warning light.

        The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.

        Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

        Every time a new car was introduced, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

        (Yes I stole this list from the internet.)

      • 0 avatar

        Thank you, I am relieved to hear that.

    • 0 avatar
      redrum

      While I generally agree with your assessment, I find it a bit disingenuous that Tesla claims autopilot is capable of fully operating the car and then washes its hands by adding a disclaimer that the driver should always have their hands on the wheel and be ready to re-take control should something go wrong (especially when the name autopilot conjures images of a pilot flipping a switch and going into the passenger cabin).

      It reminds me of a job I had long ago where I sometimes had to QC some informational packets a co-worker would put together. It got to the point where the co-worker thought that absolved him of any responsibility if something was wrong. “Oh, it’s missing some pages? That’s [redrum’s] fault, he should have caught it.” Needless to say I didn’t stay there long.

  • avatar
    InterstateNomad

    Taking away choice and autonomy under the banner of safety: we are doing this all the time: NY limiting soft drink sizes, insurance/workplace on your choice to smoke or not, autonomous driving, etc. I object to them on philosophical grounds, not safety grounds. I prefer a society with more freedom and choice, with the cost of living with consequences.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      …Which would be fine if the consequences were only felt by those who brought them about. Problems arise when that cost gets passed on to others, often those who had no hand in causing them in the first place. Freedom to smoke is limited, not just because of secondhand smoke, but also because the healthcare costs must be borne by non-smokers. Similarly so with the large drinks.

      • 0 avatar
        InterstateNomad

        Everything we do impacts the people around us. I still hold to my views. A sanitized society may be safe, but it is not as rich, vibrant, or full of possibilities.

  • avatar
    markogts

    Please tell it straight to an European: the 65MPH on intersections, is an ISIS plot, right? Whoever in its own mind would ever conceive something so damn stupid?

    PS ever heard of roundabouts? You know why are they safe? ’cause above 20MPH you fly off the side, so worst case scenario is a fender bender.

    Oh,BTW, trucks in Europe have mandatory bumpers on low trailer sides, impossible for a car to pass beneath it.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You have single-carriageway B-roads with 60 mph limits in the UK and dual carriageway A-roads with 70 mph limits. Not every intersection has a roundabout. It’s not really any different.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Please tell it straight to an European: the 65MPH on intersections, is an ISIS plot, right? Whoever in its own mind would ever conceive something so damn stupid?”

      I know it’s beyond your comprehension how big and empty some areas of the US are, but it’s a rural highway. There’s very, very little cross traffic to worry about. Put it this way, the Wikipedia page for the town where this happened (Williston, Florida) lists the main attractions as an animal refuge and “educational farm.”

      “PS ever heard of roundabouts? You know why are they safe? ’cause above 20MPH you fly off the side, so worst case scenario is a fender bender.”

      yes, they’re being built everywhere in Michigan. But putting one on a rural highway with almost no cross traffic would be (as you say) so damn stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      @markogts:

      “trucks in Europe have mandatory bumpers on low trailer sides, impossible for a car to pass beneath it.”

      While they do have bumpers, those are designed to keep cyclists and pedestrians from sliding under the trailer when cornering and colliding with them on the inside. These bumpers are flimsy and easily torn from the frame on impact. No way would they survive the impact of a car going at right angles to the truck at 65 mph — they’d just add to the debris flying out the other side.

  • avatar

    A grownup who watches Harry Potter… and a truck driver (obviously also of a mature age) who recognizes the deceased did by hearing the sound of the movie. THAT is wrong with the whole picture described here.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “A grownup who watches Harry Potter..”

      Spoken like a Muggle.

      But the truck driver recognizing a movie soundtrack playing in a car that the trucker said “went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him” and then continued on for 200 yards?

      There is much fish aroma about this story, agreed.

  • avatar

    I think we need to recognize the freakishness of this accidents circumstances. Think of all of the things that had to ‘come together’ to make this accident happen the way it did.

    Tesla driving in autonomous mode.
    Tesla at freeway speeds.
    Divided highway with periodic lateral crossing lanes.
    Tractor trailer crosses lanes at same time as approaching Tesla.
    Tesla driver distracted or not paying attention.
    Side of tractor trailer happens to be perpendicular to the sun reflecting strong sun back along road which blinds/fools the vehicles cameras thereby disabling the automatic emergency braking.
    Position of trailer on roadway allows the Tesla to go underneath resulting in decapitation, (a split second earlier or later and Tesla would hit the front or rear wheels of trailer which would increase survival chances).

    All these things had to happen one after another for this tragedy to occur.

    If it wasn’t for bad luck the Tesla driver would have no luck at all.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      There is no “autonomous mode”. And calling it a freak accident is irresponsible. Just naming it “Autopilot” is irresponsible too. Same with “semi-autonomous”.

      Either way it’s a safety gadget that’s a *driver aid*, in case the driver has a momentary lapse in focus or concentration, or simply, too many things happening around them in traffic.

      “Ultra Cruise” or “Super Cruise Control” would be more accurate and to the point. But that wouldn’t sell any cars.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I will just point out that normal people would say things like “What a pity this ex-Navy Seal died” or “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    At my last job, my work vanpool’s primary driver lived 3 houses away from me. I roll out of bed, roll into the van, and sleep or do recreational reading all the way to work. And it’s glorious. That’s as close to simulating real-life autopilot as you can get in the previous decade.

    So I’m totally onboard once they get the kinks out.


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