Incident 271: Tesla Model 3 Sedan on Autopilot Killed Motorcyclist in a Rear-End Collision in Utah

Description: A Tesla Model 3 operating on Autopilot mode slammed into the back of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on an interstate in Utah, throwing the rider from the bike and killing him instantly.
Alleged: Tesla developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed Landon Embry , motorcyclists and Tesla drivers.

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O'Donnell, Fionntán. (2022-07-24) Incident Number 271. in Lam, K. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Responsible AI Collaborative.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
271
Report Count
3
Incident Date
2022-07-24
Editors
Khoa Lam

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DRAPER, Utah (ABC4) – A motorcyclist died Sunday morning after being hit by a Tesla on auto-pilot setting in Draper, police say.

Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) states that the incident occurred just after 1 a.m. Sunday on southbound I-15.

According to a press release, the motorcyclist was traveling southbound in the area of 15000 S when a Tesla, which was traveling behind the motorcycle while the driver said the auto-pilot setting on.

The driver of the Tesla reportedly did not see the motorcyclist and collided with the back of the motorcycle, which threw the rider from the bike.

The motorcycle rider sustained fatal injuries at the scene, police say.

No further information is currently available.

Motorcyclist dies on I-15 after Tesla on auto-pilot crashes into back of bike

A motorcyclist in Draper, Utah, was killed early Sunday morning when a Tesla driver using Autopilot slammed into the rear of his bike. It is the latest crash involving Tesla’s advanced driver-assist system to draw scrutiny from federal investigators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The incident occurred just after 1AM Sunday on southbound Interstate 15, according to local reports. The motorcyclist, who has not been identified, was traveling southbound near the Salt Lake and Utah County lines when the Tesla approached from behind. The Utah Department of Public Safety said the Tesla driver collided with the back of the motorcycle, throwing the motorcyclist to the ground and killing him instantly.

The Tesla driver collided with the back of the motorcycle, throwing the motorcyclist to the ground and killing him instantly

The Tesla driver, who remained at the scene, informed local officials that they did not see the motorcyclist. The driver was using Autopilot at the time of the crash, authorities said.

The Utah crash is the latest to be added to NHTSA’s list of Special Crash Investigations (SCI), in which the agency collects data beyond what local authorities and insurance companies typically gather at the scene. The agency also examines crashes involving advanced driver-assist systems, like Tesla’s Autopilot, and automated driving systems.

As of July 26th, there are 48 crashes on the agency’s SCI list, 39 of which involved Tesla vehicles. Nineteen people, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, and motorcyclists, were killed in those Tesla crashes.

ADAS Cases for OCCI 7-26-22 for Release by ahawkins8223 on Scribd

Beyond the SCI program, NHTSA is also currently looking into 16 crashes in which Tesla owners using Autopilot crashed into stationary emergency vehicles, resulting in 15 injuries and one fatality. Most of these incidents took place after dark, with the software ignoring scene control measures including warning lights, flares, cones, and an illuminated arrow board. The probe was recently upgraded to an “Engineering Analysis,” which is the second and final phase of an investigation before a possible recall.

Tesla tops the government’s list of vehicle crashes that take place while using active driver-assist features, which automakers argue make driving safer. Tesla’s numbers were much higher than those of other companies, most likely due to the fact that it sells more vehicles equipped with Level 2 systems than its rivals. Tesla also collects real-time telematics data from its customers, giving it a much faster reporting process.

From July 20th, 2021, to May 21st, 2022, there were 273 crashes involving Tesla vehicles using Autopilot, according to NHTSA. The EV company’s crashes represent the bulk of the total 392 crashes reported during that period.

Of course, hundreds of car crashes occur every day

Of course, hundreds of car crashes occur every day, many of them fatal. More people died in auto-related crashes last year than in any year since 2005. NHTSA estimates that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2021, a 10.5 percent increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020. The deaths include pedestrians, cyclists, and others who may have died during a crash.

Most of these crashes do not involve Tesla vehicles. But Tesla crashes, especially ones involving Autopilot, warrant attention because of the company’s willingness to beta test new software on its customers — and as a result, everyone else in close proximity to those drivers. Tesla is a different kind of company because of the risks it takes in putting advanced technology out in the world and because of the corners it cuts to do so.

When a particular technology is involved in a fatal incident — in this case, Autopilot — it deserves to be examined closely to determine what decisions were made that led to this particular failure. And because Tesla insists that Autopilot makes driving safer when the evidence seems to suggest that the results are way more complicated.

Tesla driver using Autopilot kills motorcyclist, prompting another NHTSA investigation

DETROIT (AP) — Two crashes involving Teslas apparently running on Autopilot are drawing scrutiny from federal regulators and point to a potential new hazard on U.S. freeways: The partially automated vehicles may not stop for motorcycles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent investigation teams to two crashes last month in which Teslas collided with motorcycles on freeways in the darkness. Both were fatal.

The agency suspects that Tesla’s partially automated driver-assist system was in use in each. The agency says that once it gathers more information, it may include the crashes in an broader probe of Teslas striking emergency vehicles parked along freeways. NHTSA also is investigating over 750 complaints that Teslas can brake for no reason.

The first crash involving a motorcyclist happened at 4:47 a.m. July 7 on State Route 91, a freeway in Riverside, California. A white Tesla Model Y SUV was traveling east in the high occupancy vehicle lane. Ahead of it was a rider on a green Yamaha V-Star motorcycle, the California Highway Patrol said in a statement.

At some point, the vehicles collided, and the unidentified motorcyclist was ejected from the Yamaha. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fire Department.

Whether or not the Tesla was operating on Autopilot remains under investigation, a CHP spokesman said.

The second crash happened about 1:09 a.m. July 24 on Interstate 15 near Draper, Utah. A Tesla Model 3 sedan was behind a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, also in an HOV lane. “The driver of the Tesla did not see the motorcyclist and collided with the back of the motorcycle, which threw the rider from the bike,” the Utah Department of Public Safety said in a prepared statement.

The rider, identified as Landon Embry, 34, of Orem, Utah, died at the scene. The Tesla driver told authorities that he had the vehicle’s Autopilot setting on, the statement said.

Michael Brooks, acting executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, called on NHTSA to recall Tesla’s Autopilot because it is not recognizing motorcyclists, emergency vehicles or pedestrians.

“It’s pretty clear to me, and it should be to a lot of Tesla owners by now, this stuff isn’t working properly and it’s not going to live up to the expectations, and it is putting innocent people in danger on the roads,” Brooks said.

Since 2016, NHTSA has sent teams to 39 crashes in which automated driving systems are suspected of being in use, according to agency documents. Of those, 30 involved Teslas, including crashes that caused 19 deaths.

Brooks criticized the agency for continuing to investigate but not taking action. “What the Hell are they doing while these crashes continue to occur?” he asked. “Drivers are being lured into thinking this protects them and others on the roads, and it’s just not working.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has eliminated use of radar from his systems and relies solely on cameras and computer memory. Brooks and other safety advocates say the lack of radar hurts vision in the darkness.

Messages were left seeking comment from Tesla, which has disbanded its media relations department.

Tesla has said that Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving” cannot drive themselves, and that drivers should be ready to intervene at all times.

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, on Friday reported that California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla of false advertising in its promotion of Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. The accusations came in complaints filed with the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings on July 28, the Times reported.

In a June interview, new NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff said the agency is intensifying efforts to understand risks posed by automated vehicles so it can decide what regulations may be necessary to protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians. There are no federal regulations that directly cover either self-driving vehicles or those with partially automated driver-assist systems such as Autopilot.

The agency also says the technology holds great promise of reducing traffic crashes.

NHTSA also has ordered all automakers and tech companies with automated driving systems to report all crashes. The agency released the first batch of data in June showing that nearly 400 crashes were reported over a 10-month period, including 273 with Teslas. But it cautioned against making comparisons, saying that Tesla’s telematics allow it to gather data in real time, much faster than other companies.

Tesla’s Autopilot keeps cars in their lane and a distance behind other vehicles. The company also is using selected owners to test “Full Self-Driving” software, which is designed to complete a route on its own with human supervision. Eventually, Musk says the cars will drive themselves, enabling a fleet of autonomous robotaxis that will boost Tesla’s earnings. In 2019, Musk had pledged to have the robotaxis running in 2020.

He said at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting Thursday that “Full Self-Driving” is greatly improved, and he expects to make the software available by the end of the year to all owners who request it.

US agency probes Tesla crashes that killed 2 motorcyclists