Motoring with the Sims

7 months ago Comments Off on Motoring with the Sims

AMERICA’S National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the fatal crash in May of a Tesla Model S electric car. Normally such an accident, tragic though it is for the friends and family of the victim, would not warrant a high-level inquiry of this sort. In the case in question, though, the car was operating on Autopilot. That is the name Tesla, an electric-vehicle-maker based in California, has chosen for its “autonomous-driving mode”, in which the vehicle itself, via sensors and computers, lifts from the person behind the wheel much of the burden of controlling the car. According to Tesla, neither the Model S’s driver nor the car’s own sensors noticed a large articulated lorry crossing the road ahead. The car therefore failed to brake, and it ended up careering under the lorry’s trailer. That ripped off its roof, killing the driver.

In the accident, which happened in Florida, the lorry, which was painted white, was set against a brightly lit sky, Tesla noted. One possibility is that the vehicle’s cameras, working in combination with its forward-facing radar, wrongly concluded that the lorry was an overhead sign with…Continue reading
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