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The NHTSA's Final Ruling Just Cleared Tesla in May's Deadly Autopilot Crash

Tesla-Model-S-autopilot-nhtsa

This, by many accounts, is in sharp contrast to the media spectacle that took place previous year after outlets were quick to falsely link Tesla Autopilot to being the root cause behind the fatal crash.

A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted.

Elon Musk, the head of Tesla, called the report "very positive".

After an analysis of Tesla vehicle data, the NHTSA found out that the vehicle crash rate went down 40 percent thanks to the installation of Tesla's Autosteer feature.

The only statistic that Tesla offered in its public defense at the time was flimsy: Teslas had been driven on Autopilot for 209 million kilometres before the first fatal crash, compared with a national US rate of 151 million kilometers per fatality.

Although that ability is exciting and helpful, Tesla and other automakers must still file recall notices with NHTSA whenever they plan wireless updates that involve a safety issue, Thomas said.

NHTSA also says Tesla fully warns owners in the manuals about the limitations of Autopilot and how drivers must continually monitor traffic and be prepared to take immediate action in the event of trouble.

It's good news for Tesla Autopilot, which has come under scrutiny in the past few months following the fatal accident in May.

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The system also makes frequent checks to ensure that the driver's hands remain on the wheel and constantly provides visual and audible alerts if hands-on is not detected.

The bulk of the NHTSA's investigation analyzed Autopilot's automatic emergency braking system (AEB), looking for flaws in it that might have led to Brown's death. Accordingly, this investigation is closed.

In September, Tesla updated Autopilot software to rely more on radar sensors and less on cameras.

What happened during the Tesla fatal crash?

That incident saw a Tesla under the control of semi-autonomous Autopilot software run into the side of a truck trailer, which subsequently saw critics freak out about the unsafe deployment of beta software to the nation's roads.

On Jan. 19, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officially closed its investigation into the crash, in which Tesla owner Joshua Brown, 40, of OH, was killed while driving on a Florida highway.

Speaking of vindication, the report filed by the agency also noted some of the Autopilot's aspects that practically sounded like admiration, The Motley Fool reports.

Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for the NHTSA, said in a statement to Bloomberg that active safety and semi-autonomous driving features aren't made to address every single crash scenario.

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