Citation record for Incident 52

Suggested citation format

Yampolskiy, Roman. (2016-07-01) Incident Number 52. in McGregor, S. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Partnership on AI. Retrieved on September 22, 2021 from incidentdatabase.ai/cite/52.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
52
29
2016-07-01

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Taxonomy Details

Full Description

A Tesla Model S on autopilot crashed into an articulated tractor-trailer on Highway US 27A in Williston, Florida killing the driver, Joshua Brown. The trailer was turning left in front of the incoming Tesla, and the Tesla autopilot system was unable to detect the white trailer against the bright sky. Cruise control was set at 74mph and did not slow before collision. The driver had his hands on the wheel for 25 seconds of the 37 minute trip and was watching a Harry Potter movie when the collision occurred. Before the collision, the driver received 6 audible warnings that his hands had been off the wheel for too long.

Short Description

A Tesla Model S on autopilot crashed into a white articulated tractor-trailer on Highway US 27A in Williston, Florida, killing the driver.

Severity

Severe

Harm Type

Harm to physical health/safety

AI System Description

The Tesla Autopilot driving system allows hands-off driving, parking, and navigation using environmental sensors, long range radars, and 360 ultrasonic.

System Developer

Tesla

Sector of Deployment

Transportation and storage

Relevant AI functions

Perception, Cognition, Action

AI Techniques

Tesla Autopilot

AI Applications

autonomous driving

Location

Williston, FL

Named Entities

Tesla, Joshua Brown, Tesla Model S, Tesla Autopilot

Technology Purveyor

Tesla

Beginning Date

2016-05-07T07:00:00.000Z

Ending Date

2016-05-07T07:00:00.000Z

Near Miss

Harm caused

Intent

Accident

Lives Lost

Yes

Data Inputs

360 Ultrasonic Sonar; Image Recognition Camera; Long Range Radar; traffic patterns

Incidents Reports

Tesla driver killed in driverless car crash

news.com.au · 2016

Tesla Motors released a statement on June 30 after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into a fatal crash involving a Model S being driven by the car’s autopilot. Former Navy SEAL Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was killed on May 7 in Florida when the autopilot failed to distinguish between a white tractor-trailer crossing the highway and the bright sky. Brown had published a video around one month before the fatal crash where he credited his “Tessy’s” autopilot for averting a collision. The video went viral on YouTube attracting over 1.7 million views and was tweeted by Tesla founder Elon Musk. “Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent. It has done many, many amazing things, but this was one of the more interesting things caught on the dashcam,” Brown wrote in a comment on the YouTube video published on April 5. The Associated Press interviewed the driver of the tractor-trailer involved in the May 7 crash, who said a movie was playing in the car following the crash. Bronson, Florida-based newspaper The Levy Journal reported the top of the Telsa was torn off in the crash on US 27A. This video shows the April 5 near miss captured on Brown’s dashboard camera. Credit: YouTube/Joshua Brown

US OH: Tesla Driver Killed in Autopilot Crash Had Filmed Previous Near Miss April 05 0:40

IT WAS always going to happen, the question was how would the world react?

It was announced early this morning that a Tesla Model S has been involved in a fatal crash during which the autopilot mode of the vehicle was activated.

The accident occurred on a highway in northern Florida when a tractor trailer drove perpendicular across the highway crashing into the Tesla car which was driving itself.

Tesla, which said the driver was ultimately responsible for the vehicle’s action even when in autopilot mode, said both the driver and the car failed to notice the tractor trailer “against a brightly lit sky” and the brakes failed to kick in.

In a company blog post detailing the accident, Tesla said the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) had been informed of the accident and had been conducting an investigation into the crash.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted the blog post offering his “condolences for the tragic loss.”

Our condolences for the tragic loss https://t.co/zI2100zEGL — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 30, 2016

The driver of the Tesla was a 40-year-old Joshua Brown, the owner of a technology company who nicknamed his vehicle “Tessy” and had praised its sophisticated “autopilot” system just one month earlier for preventing a collision on an interstate.

While details about the accident was only recently reported, it took place on May 7.

The cameras on Mr Brown’s car had failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to a government report obtained by the Associated Press.

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

“It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” he said.

Tesla Motors Inc. said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen and Mr Baressi acknowledged he couldn’t see the movie, he only heard it playing.

Tesla statement on 1st death from a self-driving car is remarkable. Repeatedly says, more or less, "Well, human drivers are less safe." — Danny Yadron (@dannyyadron) June 30, 2016

Mr Brown was incredibly enthusiastic about his 2015 Tesla Model S and in April credited its sophisticated autopilot system for avoiding a crash when a commercial truck swerved into his lane on an interstate.

He published a video of the incident online. “Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent,” Mr Brown wrote.

Tesla didn’t identify Mr Brown but described him in the statement as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV (electric vehicle) community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.”

Mr Musk’s company also stressed in the blog post that there still remains some uncertainty about its new system, pointing out that drivers must manually enable it.

“Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert,” the company said.

— With AP...

Tesla driver killed in driverless car crash
Tesla driver watched 'Harry Potter' movie as he crashed, witness says

freep.com · 2016

CLOSE A preliminary investigation has begun for a fatal car crash involving a Tesla Model S.According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the electric model sedan had Autopilot mode engaged when a driver was killed. USA TODAY

Model S with Autopilot engaged. (Photo: Tesla Motors)

WASHINGTON — A driver was so enamored of his Tesla Model S sedan that he nicknamed the car “Tessy,” praised the safety benefits of its Autopilot system and was watching a Harry Potter video when he became the first person to die in a wreck involving a car in self-driving mode.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the driver’s death Thursday and said it is investigating the design and performance of the Autopilot system.

Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company, was killed May 7 in Williston, Fla., when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to statements by the government and the automaker. Just one month earlier, Brown had credited the Autopilot system for preventing a collision on an interstate.

►Related:BMW to deliver self-driving car by 2021

In this image from video, Frank Baressi speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at his home in Palm Harbor, Fla. Thursday, June 30, 2016. (Photo: Tamara Lush, AP)

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck and owner of Okemah Express, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

The movie “was still playing when he died,” Baressi told the Associated Press in an interview from his home in Palm Harbor, Fla., saying the careening car “snapped a telephone pole a quarter-mile down the road.” He acknowledged he didn’t see the movie, only heard it.

Tesla Motors said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen. There was no reference to the movie in initial police reports.

Brown's driving record, obtained by the Associated Press, showed he had eight speeding tickets in a six-year span. Seven came in Ohio and one in Virginia. The most recent ticket, in northeastern Ohio in August 2011, was for driving 64 m.p.h. in a 35 m.p.h. zone.

Brown’s published obituary described him as a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations, working on wireless Internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Brown’s work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.

Brown was an enthusiastic booster of his 2015 Tesla Model S and in April praised the Autopilot system for avoiding a crash when a commercial truck swerved into his lane on an interstate. He published a video of the incident online. “Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent,” Brown wrote.

In a statement released Friday, Brown’s family noted his “passion for technological advancement” and said they are cooperating with the investigation. The family hopes “information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways.”

►Related:Google to open self-driving development center in Novi

►Related: Lyft and GM to test self-driving cars within a year

Tesla didn’t identify Brown but described him in a statement as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV (electric vehicle) community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.” It stressed the uncertainty about its new system, saying drivers must manually enable it: “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

A man answering the door at Brown’s parents’ house who did not identify himself said he had no comment.

Tesla founder Elon Musk expressed condolences in a tweet late Thursday.

Preliminary reports indicated the crash occurred when Baressi’s rig turned left in front of Brown’s Tesla at an intersection of a divided highway southwest of Gainesville, Fla., where there was no traffic light, NHTSA said. Brown died at the scene.

By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla — with its roof sheared off completely — had come to rest in a yard hundreds of feet from the crash site, assistant chief Danny Wallace of the Williston Fire Department told the AP.

Tesla said in a statement that this was the first known death in more than 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. Before Autopilot can be used, drivers have to acknowledge that the system is an “assist feature” that requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. Drivers are told they need to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using the system, and they have to be prepared to take over at any time, the statement said.

Autopilot makes frequent checks, making sure...

Tesla driver watched 'Harry Potter' movie as he crashed, witness says
Tesla Model S driver may have been watching Harry Potter before deadly Autopilot crash

autoblog.com · 2016

Joshua Brown, the 40-year-old man that was killed in a crash while using his Tesla Model S ' Autopilot system, was watching a Harry Potter movie when his car collided with a semi-trailer.That's according to Frank Baressi, the trucker Brown hit. The 62-year-old told The Associated Press the Model S driver and former Navy SEAL was "playing Harry Potter on the TV screen" and that it "was still playing when he died." At the same time, the trucker admitted that he heard the movie, but didn't see it. According to Reuters , the Florida Highway Patrol found a portable DVD player in the wrecked EV According to Tesla, the Model S' Autopilot system is supposed to make frequent checks to make sure the driver's hands are on the wheel, and will sound alarms if they aren't. Go hands-free long enough and the car will even decelerate. But based on Baressi's account of the crash, it sounds like either Brown kept his hands on the wheel while watching Harry Potter or the car didn't slow down. Baressi told the AP the Model S "went so fast through my trailer I didn't see him." Tesla didn't indicate if speed was a factor in the crash.Brown was a staunch supporter of Tesla and his Model S' Autopilot system, claiming its automatic braking saved him from a collision back in April. In a video on the close call, Brown said the Model S was "Hands down the best car I have ever owned," The Detroit Free Press reports. But in Brown's crash, the Autopilot on the Model S couldn't distinguish between the white trailer and the bright sky.While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to investigate the incident , Brown's death should serve as a reminder that so-called Level 2 autonomous systems might have "autonomous" in their name, but they're far from fully driverless cars . According to NHTSA , Level 2 systems like Autopilot automate "at least two primary control functions designed to work in unison to relieve the driver of control of those functions." Drivers still need to be beyond the wheel and paying attention....

Tesla Model S driver may have been watching Harry Potter before deadly Autopilot crash
Man watching movie dies in Tesla on autopilot

bostonherald.com · 2016

WASHINGTON — A man allegedly watching a Harry Potter movie in a Tesla on “autopilot” was killed when the car slammed into a semi’s trailer on May 7, a witness said, in what the U.S. government says is the first reported death involving a self-driving vehicle.

Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a tech firm who nicknamed his vehicle “Tessy” and had praised its Autopilot system just one month earlier, was killed in Williston, Fla., when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t activate its brakes, according to government records.

Truck driver Frank Baressi, 62, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

“It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter-mile down the road,” Baressi said, though he acknowledged he couldn’t see the movie, he only heard it. Tesla Motors Inc. said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen and initial police reports didn’t mention it.

Brown was a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years until 2008, and founder of Nexu Innovations Inc., working on wireless internet networks and camera systems. Brown was enthusiastic about his 2015 Tesla Model S and in April credited its Autopilot system for avoiding a crash when a commercial truck swerved into his lane on an Interstate. He published a video of the incident online. “Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent,” Brown wrote.

Tesla described Brown in a statement as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV (electric vehicle) community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.” It also stressed the uncertainty about its new system, noting that drivers must manually enable it: “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

Shares of Tesla Motors Inc. fell $6.77, or 3.2 percent, in after-hours trading on news of the crash.

Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said the accident is a huge blow to Tesla’s reputation.

“They have been touting their safety and they have been touting their advanced technology,” he said. “This situation flies in the face of both.”...

Man watching movie dies in Tesla on autopilot
'Harry Potter' Playing in Tesla Autopilot Crash, Says Driver

thewrap.com · 2016

Joshua D. Brown, the first person to die in a Tesla autopilot accident, was watching a “Harry Potter” movie when his vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer, according to the surviving truck driver.

“It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” Frank Baressi told the Associated Press.

Reuters reported Friday that the Florida Highway Patrol said it found an aftermarket digital video disc (DVD) player in the wreckage of the Tesla Motors Model S involved in the crash.

Also Read: Tesla Investigated After First Fatal Crash in 'Autopilot' Mode

“There was a portable DVD player in the vehicle,” said Sergeant Kim Montes. The officer also added there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage.

According to Tesla, it is impossible to watch movies on the car’s touchscreen. Baressi added that he could only hear the movie playing, but didn’t see it.

The Model S was on autopilot mode when its cameras failed to differentiate the white side of a truck from a bright sky.

Also Read: Tesla CEO Claims NY Times Review Cost Company About $100M

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a formal investigation into the May 7 accident that is only recently making headlines.

“Preliminary reports indicate the vehicle crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection on a noncontrolled access highway,” the agency said. “The driver of the Tesla died due to injuries sustained in the crash.”

Also Read: 'Game of Thrones' Fan Theory Says Arya to Stand In for Major Book Character

Tesla is still optimistic about its autopilot technology, and doesn’t consider the accident an indication that it is dangerous.

“This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated,” Elon Musk‘s company said in a statement. “Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles.”

Also Read: 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Slammed for Tweeting About Airport Agent's Comments

The company also noted that they make it explicitly clear to drivers that the autopilot function is only an assist feature and still requires that the driver keep their hands on the wheel....

'Harry Potter' Playing in Tesla Autopilot Crash, Says Driver
Tesla driver killed in crash while using car's 'Autopilot'

apnews.com · 2016

FILE - In this Monday, April 25, 2016, file photo, a man sits behind the steering wheel of a Tesla Model S electric car on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing. Federal officials say the driver of a Tesla S sports car using the vehicle’s “autopilot” automated driving system has been killed in a collision with a truck, the first U.S. self-driving car fatality. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at a highway intersection. NHTSA said the Tesla driver died due to injuries sustained in the crash, which took place on May 7 in Williston, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. announced Thursday the first fatality in a wreck involving a car in self-driving mode, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company who nicknamed his vehicle “Tessy” and had praised its sophisticated “Autopilot” system just one month earlier for preventing a collision on an interstate. The government said it is investigating the design and performance of the system aboard the Tesla Model S sedan.

Joshua D. Brown, of Canton, Ohio, died in the accident May 7 in Williston, Florida, when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to government records obtained Thursday.

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck and owner of Okemah Express LLC, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

“It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” Baressi told The Associated Press in an interview from his home in Palm Harbor, Florida. He acknowledged he couldn’t see the movie, only heard it.

Tesla Motors Inc. said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen. There was no reference to the movie in initial police reports.

Brown’s published obituary described him as a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations Inc., working on wireless Internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Brown’s work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.

Brown was an enthusiastic booster of his 2015 Tesla Model S and in April credited its sophisticated Autopilot system for avoiding a crash when a commercial truck swerved into his lane on an interstate. He published a video of the incident online. “Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent,” Brown wrote.

Tesla didn’t identify Brown but described him in a statement as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV (electric vehicle) community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.” It also stressed the uncertainty about its new system, noting that drivers must manually enable it: “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

A man answering the door at Brown’s parents’ house who did not identify himself said he had no comment.

Tesla founder Elon Musk expressed “Our condolences for the tragic loss” in a tweet late Thursday.

Preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when Baressi’s rig turned left in front of Brown’s Tesla at an intersection of a divided highway where there was no traffic light, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. Brown died at the scene of the crash, which occurred May 7 in Williston, Florida, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. The city is southwest of Gainesville.

By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla — with its roof sheared off completely — had come to rest in a nearby yard hundreds of feet from the crash site, assistant chief Danny Wallace of the Williston Fire Department told The Associated Press. The driver was pronounced dead, “Signal 7” in the local firefighters’ jargon, and they respectfully covered the wreckage and waited for crash investigators to arrive.

The company said this was the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. It said the NHTSA investigation is a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the system worked as expected.

Tesla says that before Autopilot can be used, drivers have to acknowledge that the system is an “assist feature” that requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. Drivers are told they need to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using the system, and they have to be prepared to take over at any time, the statement said.

Autopilot makes frequent checks, making sure the driver’s hands are on the wheel, and it gives visual and audible alerts if hands aren’t detected, and it gradually slows the car until a driver resp...

Tesla driver killed in crash while using car's 'Autopilot'
Tesla owner was watching 'Harry Potter' during autopilot crash, says truck driver

aol.com · 2016

Joshua D. Brown, the first person to die in a Tesla autopilot accident, was watching a "Harry Potter" movie when the vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer, according to the surviving truck driver.

"It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road," Frank Baressi told the Associated Press.

Reuters reported Friday that the Florida Highway Patrol said it found an aftermarket digital video disc (DVD) player in the wreckage of the Tesla Motors Model S involved in the crash on May 7.

Also Read:Tesla Investigated After First Fatal Crash in 'Autopilot' Mode

According to Tesla, it is impossible to watch movies on the car's touchscreen. Baressi added that he could only hear the movie playing, but didn't see it.

The Model S was on autopilot mode when its cameras failed to differentiate the white side of a truck from a bright sky.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a formal investigation into the accident which occurred on May 7.

Also Read:Tesla CEO Claims NY Times Review Cost Company About $100M

"Preliminary reports indicate the vehicle crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection on a noncontrolled access highway," the agency said. "The driver of the Tesla died due to injuries sustained in the crash."

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Despite the tragic crash, Tesla still stands by their vehicles.

'This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated," the motor company said in a statement. "Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles."

Also Read:George Clooney Putting $125,000 Tesla on the Auction Block for Sudan's Cause

The company also noted that they make it explicitly clear to drivers that the autopilot function is only an assist feature and still requires that the driver keep their hands on the wheel.

Read original story Tesla Owner Was Watching 'Harry Potter' During Autopilot Crash, Says Truck Driver At TheWrap...

Tesla owner was watching 'Harry Potter' during autopilot crash, says truck driver
Former Navy Seal who became first person to die in a self-driving car was 'watching Harry Potter when his Tesla smashed into a truck'

thesun.co.uk · 2016

THE former Navy Seal who became the first person to die in a self-driving car crash was reportedly watching a Harry Potter film when his Tesla vehicle smashed into a truck.

Joshua D. Brown, 40, from Ohio, died on May 7 in Williston Florida when his Tesla Model S failed to distinguish between the side of a white turning truck and the bright sky meaning the breaks did not automatically activate while in auto-pilot.

Facebook 8 Joshua Brown, pictured, is thought to be the first ever victim of a self-driving car crash

Facebook 8 A picture of Brown's beloved 2015 Tesla Model S which he posted on his Facebook page

Truck driver Frank Baressi, 62, whose vehicle ploughed into Brown's high-tech motor, said the former soldier was "playing Harry Potter on the TV screen" and "he went so fast through my trailer I didn't see him."

He said: "It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road.”

The death in Florida is thought to be the first human fatality in a driverless car and could potentially trigger a recall if the vehicles are found to be unsafe.

Brown died at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash.

YouTube 8 A month before the deadly smash, Brown posted a video online showing a close-call with another white truck

YouTube 8 The former Navy SEAL congratulated his car saying it did a "great job" following he near-miss

There is still no confirmation whether Brown, who died at the scene of the smash, was watching the family movie on a screen in his vehicle or on a mobile device.

Tech company Tesla insist that drivers are not able to watch films or television shows on the car's touchscreen.

The initial police report did not contain any references to the victim watching a film.

Initial reports say that the crash occurred when Baressi’s truck turned left in front of the Tesla at the intersection with no traffic lights.

Firefighters found Brown’s fancy motor hundreds of feet from the crash site with its roof completely seared off.

Emergency services pronounced the former SEAL dead at the scene and respectively covered the wreck before crash investigators arrived.

Tesla said that this is the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation.

The innovative company admits the system is an "assist feature" which requires the driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

Drivers are told they need to "maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle" and should be ready to take control at any time.

Facebook 8 Adrenaline enthusiast Brown, pictured, had a YouTube channel dedicated to his fancy motor

Brown served as a Navy SEAL for 11 years and also founded wireless internet and camera company Nexu Innovations Inc.

The Pentagon also confirmed the driver’s work with the SEALs and said he left the elite fighting team in 2008.

The former soldier was a huge admirer of Tesla and his 2015 Model S which he nicknamed ‘Tessy’.

Just a month before the crash, he credited Tesla's Autopilot for saving him in a near-miss caught on video.

He wrote: "Tessy did great. I have done a lot of testing with the sensors in the car and the software capabilities.

"I have always been impressed with the car, but I had not tested the car's side collision avoidance. I am VERY impressed. Excellent job Elon!"

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has since opened a "preliminary evaluation" on the company's Autopilot feature.

Elon Musk, product-architect of Tesla Motors, paid tribute to Brown on Twitter.

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Tesla said in a statement it was the first fatality in more than 130 million miles where the autopilot feature had been activated.

The company added the crash had taken place in "extremely rare circumstances."

Their statement reads: "What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S.

"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 high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.

8 Elon Musk, product-architect of Tesla Motors, paid tribute to the form...

Former Navy Seal who became first person to die in a self-driving car was 'watching Harry Potter when his Tesla smashed into a truck'
Man Killed in Tesla Autopilot Crash was Watching Harry Potter

autoguide.com · 2016

AutoGuide.com

The 40-year-old man who was recently killed in a Tesla Autopilot crash was reportedly watching Harry Potter.

Yesterday, Tesla published a blog post on the first driver fatality while its Model S had Autopilot activated, and now the Associated Press reports that the driver was Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, who died on May 7 in Williston, Florida. Brown was tech-savvy and owned a technology company, and had just one month earlier credited his 2015 Tesla Model S for preventing a crash on an interstate highway.

According to the driver of the tractor trailer, Frank Baressi, the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen,” and was apparently driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.” He also said during the interview in his home in Palm Harbor, Florida that the movie “was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road.” Baressi did admit that he didn’t see the movie actually playing, but he did hear it.

SEE ALSO: Did Tesla Autopilot Just Kill Someone?

Tesla has responded saying it isn’t possible to watch videos on the Model S touchscreen.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the Tesla Autopilot system as a result of the death, and it is likely that the American electric automaker has datalogs that show just how fast the vehicle was traveling at the time of the accident.

Update: Reuters confirms that a portable DVD player was found inside the vehicle.

Discuss this story on our Tesla Forum...

Man Killed in Tesla Autopilot Crash was Watching Harry Potter
First person killed in Tesla self-driving car crash 'was watching Harry Potter'

standard.co.uk · 2016

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A man killed in the first known self-driving car crash may have been watching Harry Potter when the vehicle ploughed into a lorry, it has been claimed.

Police in Florida found a portable DVD player in the wreckage of the car following the incident which killed Tesla driver Joshua Brown. Today witnesses said they believed it was being used to watch an instalment of the popular film series based on J K Rowling’s novels.

According to an accident report released this week, the vehicle crashed into a turning truck while on autopilot mode after failing to distinguish the lorry’s white trailer from the brightly lit sky.

Firefighters who attended the scene on May 7 in Williston, Florida, found Mr Brown’s car hundreds of yards from the crash site and with its roof completely taken off.

Details of the incident only emerged this week as Tesla, which is owned by tech magnate Elon Musk, released its report on the crash.

But witness Robert VanKavelaar added that police at the scene told him after the incident that a “Harry Potter” movie was found to be showing on the DVD found in the car.

The driver of the truck involved in the collision also claimed Mr Brown had been "playing Harry Potter on the TV screen" when he smashed into his vehicle.

And Florida highway patrol Sergeant Kim Montes confirmed "there was a portable DVD player in the vehicle" but declined to elaborate further.

However, another witness, Terence Mulligan, cast doubt on the reports, saying he arrived on the scene before police and found no movie playing....

First person killed in Tesla self-driving car crash 'was watching Harry Potter'
Tesla owner killed in crash was watching ‘Harry Potter’ while using car's autopilot, survivor says

dallasnews.com · 2016

Tesla noted that drivers must manually enable the Autopilot system: "Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert."

As NHTSA opened an investigation, Tesla founder Elon Musk expressed "Our condolences for the tragic loss" in a tweet late Thursday.

Preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when Baressi's rig turned left in front of Brown at an intersection of a divided highway where there was no traffic light, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. Brown died at the scene just southwest of Gainesville, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

By the time firefighters arrived, the Tesla wreckage -- with its roof sheared off -- had come to rest in a yard hundreds of feet from the crash site.

Tesla said in a statement that this was the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. Before Autopilot can be used, drivers have to acknowledge that the system is an "assist feature" that requires both hands on the wheel. Drivers are told they need must be prepared to take over controls, the statement said.

Autopilot checks to make sure a driver's hands are on the wheel, and it gives visual and audible alerts if they aren't. It also will gradually slow the car until the driver responds, the statement said.

The system allows the Model S to steer itself within a lane, change lanes and speed up or slow down based on surrounding traffic or the driver's set speed. It can automatically apply brakes and slow the vehicle.

Tesla said Autopilot "results in a statistically significant improvement in safety."

Brown's death comes as NHTSA is taking steps to ease self-driving cars onto the nation's roads, an anticipated sea-change in driving where Tesla has been a leader. Self-driving cars are expected to eliminate human errors that are responsible for 94 percent of crashes.

This is not the first time automatic braking systems have malfunctioned, and several have been recalled to fix problems. Last fall, Ford, for instance, recalled 37,000 F-150 pickups because they braked with nothing in the way. The company said the radar could become confused when passing a large, reflective truck.

The technology relies on multiple cameras, radar, laser and computers to sense objects and determine if they are in the car's way. Systems like Tesla's, which rely heavily on cameras, "aren't sophisticated enough to overcome blindness from bright or low contrast light," said Mike Harley, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

Harley said that more deaths can be expected as the autonomous technology is refined.

Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said the crash is a huge blow to Tesla's reputation.

"They have been touting their safety and they have been touting their advanced technology," he said. "This situation flies in the face of both."

Watch DMN auto writer Terry Box take you through the auto-system...

Tesla owner killed in crash was watching ‘Harry Potter’ while using car's autopilot, survivor says
Tesla crash: Driver who died while on Autopilot mode ‘was watching Harry Potter’

independent.co.uk · 2016

The former US Navy SEAL believed to be the first person to die at the wheel of a self-driving car, had collected eight speeding tickets over the last six years. It was also reported that Joshua Brown may have been watching a Harry Potter movie when his Tesla collided with a truck.

It emerged this week that Mr Brown, 40, was killed in May when his Tesla Model S collided with the white trailer of a lorry on a Florida highway.

The car’s windscreen hit the bottom of the trailer as it passed underneath, and the car kept going, leaving the road. It then struck a fence, crossed a field, and hit a pole, according to a report by the Florida Highway Patrol.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has begun an investigation into the Autopilot system used in 25,000 Model S cars amid reports that the cameras on his car did not distinguish the white side of the truck. The NHTSA said preliminary reports indicated that the crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection.

On Friday, the Associated Press said that records showed Mr Brown had collected a number of speeding tickets in recent years. Mr Brown was cited for speeding seven times in Ohio between 2010 and 2015 and once in Virginia. He was most recently fined for driving 64 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone in northeastern Ohio last August.

Terri Lynn Reed, who was friend and an insurance agent in northeastern Ohio who insured Mr Brown’s business, said he was always up for an adventure and loved motorcycles and fast cars.

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck and owner of Okemah Express LLC freight company, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him”. Police have confirmed that the remains of a personal DVD player were found in the wreckage.

Reports said Mr Brown was a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations Inc, a company that develops wireless internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Mr Brown's work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.

Mr Brown was very enthusiastic about his 2015 Tesla Model S and in April praised the Autopilot system for avoiding a crash when a commercial truck swerved into his lane on an interstate highway. He published a video of the incident online. “Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent,” Mr Brown wrote.

In a statement released on Friday, Mr Brown’s family noted his “passion for technological advancement” and said they were cooperating with the investigation. The family said it hoped “information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways.”

Tesla did not identify Mr Brown but described him in a statement as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV (electric vehicle) community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission”.

It stressed the uncertainty about its new system, saying drivers must manually enable it: “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

Tesla founder Elon Musk expressed condolences in a tweet late on Thursday.

In a statement, the company said this was the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. Before Autopilot can be used, drivers have to acknowledge that the system is an “assist feature” that requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

Drivers are told they need to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using the system, and they have to be prepared to take over at any time, the statement said....

Tesla crash: Driver who died while on Autopilot mode ‘was watching Harry Potter’
Joshua Brown, Who Died in Self-Driving Accident, Tested Limits of His Tesla

www.nytimes.com · 2016

CANTON, Ohio — Joshua Brown loved his all-electric Tesla Model S so much he nicknamed it Tessy.

And he celebrated the Autopilot feature that made it possible for him to cruise the highways, making YouTube videos of himself driving hands-free. In the first nine months he owned it, Mr. Brown put more than 45,000 miles on the car.

“I do drive it a LOT,” he wrote in response to one of the hundreds of viewer comments on one of his two dozen Tesla-themed videos. His postings attracted countless other Tesla enthusiasts, who tend to embrace the cars with an almost cultish devotion.

They also tend to be people who like to live on technology’s leading edge, which in Mr. Brown’s case meant dismantling bombs for the Navy during the Iraq war, then coming home to start his own company to extend internet service into rural America. In his spare time he used a 3-D printer to make model tanks and trucks.

His Tesla, in other words, was simply one more extension of his technology-driven life. It took him on far-flung adventures from the gravel driveway of the pale-blue clapboard house where he lived alone in Canton, an hour’s drive south of Cleveland.

Tesla Fans Show Off Their Cars

The driver of a Tesla in self-driving mode was recently killed in an accident in Florida. The company called the driver “a friend of Tesla” and the broader community. Below is a look at how some Tesla enthusiasts engage with the technology.

But Mr. Brown became a victim of an innovation geared precisely to people like him when his Tesla Model S electric sedan collided with a semitrailer truck on a Florida highway in May, making him the first known fatality in a self-driving car.

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“He liked it mainly because it was an exceptional use of technology, and Josh was very much an innovator,” said his friend Paul Snow, who recalled how excited Mr. Brown was about his Tesla during a recent road trip. “He enjoyed the fact that technology was available, that it was being used to, ironically, increase safety on the roads.”

Tesla owners are a devoted bunch. Immediately after the company unveiled a prototype of its Model 3 car, more than 200,000 enthusiasts put down deposits on the vehicles, which start at $35,000 and will not be available until next year.

Many owners like to showcase their cars on social media, creating songs, routines and other demonstrations of different features, particularly to show off how Autopilot works.

Mr. Brown’s most recent video was his most popular. Titled “Autopilot Saves Model S,” it shows Mr. Brown driving on an interstate highway from Cleveland to Canton. A white truck cuts in front of Mr. Brown’s vehicle, and by his account, the Tesla’s Autopilot feature swerves the car to the right, avoiding a collision.

After Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, called attention to the video on Twitter, it went viral.

Mr. Brown seemed to be elated.

Stanley Watson and Joshua Brown posed in front of the Tesla.

Stanley Watson and Joshua Brown posed in front of the Tesla.

“He had said, ‘For something to catch Elon Musk’s eye, I can die and go to heaven now,’” said a neighbor, Krista Kitchen, choking up. “He was absolutely thrilled – and then a couple weeks later he died.”

In a statement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said preliminary reports indicated that the crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla, and the car failed to apply the brakes. The agency did not name the victim, but the Florida Highway Patrol identified him as Mr. Brown.

Ms. Kitchen said Mr. Brown, 40, had just left a family trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando. His relatives did not respond to requests for comment. At Mr. Brown’s house, behind an expansive, well-trimmed lawn, a man who answered the door on Friday said the family did not wish to speak to reporters.

Ms. Kitchen and others described how Mr. Brown would eagerly share his Tesla with friends, letting them take turns behind the wheel. And they described a man who was broadly generous with his time, who consistently helped friends in need, and who stayed in touch with his fellow veterans.

Inside the Self-Driving Tesla Fatal Accident

After Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was killed driving a Tesla Model S in the first fatality involving a self-driving car, questions have arisen about the safety of the car’s technology.

“He was certainly an adventurer,” Mr. Snow said. “He was a warrior that served proudly for his country; he was a patriot. He did many things that had never been done before.”

Mr. Brown was particularly interested in testing the limits of the Autopilot function, documenting how the vehicle would react in blind spots, going around curves and other more challenging situations.

“This section in here is going to be very, very difficult for the car to handle,” he said in one video, posted in October, as his vehicle rounded a curve. “We’re filming this just so you can see scenarios where the car does not do well.”

Mark Vernon, a high school classmate who recalled tinkering with electronics in shop class together, said that his friend showed off the self-driving feature on a recent visit at Mr. Brown’s home.

“He knew the hill that it would give up on, because it couldn’t see far enough,” Mr. Vernon said. “He knew all the limitations that it would find and he really knew how it was supposed to work.”

ImageTerri Lyn Reed, an account executive who said she helped Mr. Brown set up the insurance for his company.

Terri Lyn Reed, an account executive who said she helped Mr. Brown set up the insurance for his company.Credit...Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

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Mr. Brown attended the University of New Mexico, where he studied physics and computer science, but did not graduate, the school said. Instead, he joined the Navy, where he served for more than a decade and specialized in disarming explosives, according to his company’s website.

His service included a stint with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team 6. Ricky Hammer, a retired Navy master chief who worked with Mr. Brown at the development group, said he had strong computer skills and “was the equivalent of an electrical engineer even though he didn’t have the degree.”

Tesla owners tend to share a love of technology, and an eagerness to embrace the unknown, the untested or the unproven. Photos posted on Mr. Brown’s Facebook page show a love of the outdoors, where he rappelled down cliffs and jumped out of airplanes for fun.

One of those struck by Mr. Brown’s adventurous side was Terri Lyn Reed, a senior insurance account executive who said she had helped Mr. Brown set up the insurance at his company, Nexu Innovations.

“He’d probably fly an F-18 to test-drive it,” she said, referring to the military fighter jet.

Tesla enthusiasts often also share a loyalty to the company, much the way Apple has engendered true believers whom it relies on to back the introduction of new iPhones, Macs and other products.

An excerpt of <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2938399-joshua-brown-obit.html">Joshua Brown’s obituary </a>from The Greensburg Tribune Review in Westmoreland County, Pa., where he had formerly lived.

An excerpt of Joshua Brown’s obituary from The Greensburg Tribune Review in Westmoreland County, Pa., where he had formerly lived.

Richard Henry, 26, who bought a 2015 Model S about nine months ago, uses Autopilot to take him through about 40 miles of freeway driving on each leg of his commute between San Francisco and Mountain View.

When he started using his car’s Autopilot mode, it had a tendency to lose track of the highway lines and tell him to take control. But in the last few months it has improved more and more. Most days he turns it on and sits with his hands on his knees — ready to take the wheel, he pointed out.

Continue reading the main story

Learning about the technology and getting used to it has been “superfun,” he said. That is a point that separates him from the many other drivers who tend to learn how to use a few necessary functions in their car and never bother with most others. “I really like trying stuff like this out and understanding how the technology works,” Mr. Henry said.

Mr. Brown’s enthusiasm for technology factored deeply into his work at Nexu, which specialized in setting up internet access in rural areas of the country where forests and mountains created special obstacles to entering the connected world.

“Josh knew how to get around all the interference from all the trees and all the hills,” said Cindi Staneski, who runs the Hickory Run Campground in Denver, Pa., an 80-acre operation that became one of Mr. Brown’s early clients.

“The big companies wanted nothing to do with it,” Ms. Staneski said, adding that Mr. Brown had become a mentor to her son. “It was too difficult, or they just wanted to charge you an extreme amount of money, whereas Josh felt that we deserved a chance that everybody else had.”...

Joshua Brown, Who Died in Self-Driving Accident, Tested Limits of His Tesla
Tesla driver killed while using autopilot was watching Harry Potter, witness says

theguardian.com · 2016

Driver in first known fatal self-driving car crash was also driving so fast that ‘he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him’, the truck driver involved said

This article is more than 2 years old

This article is more than 2 years old

The Tesla driver killed in the first known fatal crash involving a self-driving car may have been watching a Harry Potter movie at the time of the collision in Florida, according to a truck driver involved in the crash.

The truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, told the Associated Press that the Tesla driver Joshua Brown, 40, was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” during the collision and was driving so fast that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him”.

Tesla driver dies in first fatal crash while using autopilot mode Read more

The disclosure raises further questions about the 7 May crash in Williston, Florida, which occurred after Brown put his Model S into Tesla’s autopilot mode, which is able to control a car while it’s driving on the highway.

The fatal crash, which federal highway safety regulators are now investigating, is a significant setback and a public relations disaster for the growing autonomous vehicle industry. Tesla Motors Inc’s shares, however, were down less than 1% on Friday in early trading.

Baressi, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, said the Harry Potter movie “was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road”. He told the AP, however, that he heard the movie but didn’t see it.

The Florida highway patrol told Reuters that there was a portable DVD player in the vehicle.

According to Tesla’s account of the crash, the car’s sensor system, against a bright spring sky, failed to distinguish a large white 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the highway. In a blogpost, Tesla said the self-driving car attempted to drive full speed under the trailer “with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S”.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest The disclosure raises further questions about the May crash, which occurred after Joshua Brown put his Model S into Tesla’s autopilot mode, which is able to control a car while it’s driving on the highway. Photograph: Facebook

The top of the vehicle was “torn off by the force of the collision”, according to a police report in the local Levy County Journal.

Baressi was uninjured.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, tweeted his condolences regarding the “tragic loss”, but the company’s statement deflected blame for the crash. His 537-word statement noted that this was Tesla’s first known autopilot death in roughly 130m miles driven by customers.

“Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles,” the statement said.

It goes on to say that the car’s autonomous software is designed to nudge consumers to keep their hands on the wheels to make sure they’re paying attention. “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert,” the company said.

News of the death came just as BMW announced that it is joining forces with US computer chip firm Intel and Mobileye, an Israeli tech company, to develop its own self-driving cars.

Google, Uber and numerous automakers have also tested self-driving technology. BMW said the goal of the new collaboration was to develop cars that would eventually allow them to take their eyes off the road.

Brown, who owned a technology company called Nexu Innovation, was a Tesla enthusiast who posted videos of his car on autopilot on YouTube. One of them showed his vehicle avoiding a crash on the highway. The footage racked up 1m views after Musk tweeted it.

One of his first videos appeared to show Brown temporarily driving with no hands in slow-moving traffic. The Associated Press also reported that records show he received eight speeding tickets in six years.

Since Tesla introduced the autopilot mode last October, Model S drivers have recorded videos of themselves online pushing the technology to its limits.

Tesla drivers post viral, self-driving 'stunts' using autopilot technology Read more

On YouTube, there are multiple videos showing drivers with their hands off the wheel. Musk has advised against this. However, one of the videos was uploaded by actress Talulah Riley, Musk’s second wife.

At the end of Tesla’s blogpost announcing Brown’s death, the company described the victim, who they did not name, as someone with “a loving family and we are beyond saddened by their loss”.

“He was a friend to Tesla and the broader [electric vehicle] community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting...

Tesla driver killed while using autopilot was watching Harry Potter, witness says
Tesla autopilot crash victim Joshua Brown was watching a movie when he died.

slate.com · 2016

The Model S’s in-dash touchscreen doesn’t play video, but the victim of a fatal crash had a portable DVD player in his car.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Joshua Brown, 40, believed in the power of engineering. He was a former Navy SEAL, a technology consultant, and a Tesla fan. He had posted YouTube videos of himself driving a Tesla Model S on autopilot, taking his hands off the wheel to show how the car could avoid a collision on its own. He had nicknamed his car “Tessy.”

On May 7, Brown and Tessy were cruising down a Florida highway on autopilot when they both failed to notice a big-rig truck making a left turn across traffic in front of them. The truck’s driver told the Associated Press that Brown’s car “went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.” A quarter of a mile later, what was left of the car and Brown came to an abrupt stop against a telephone pole.

The driver told the AP that, after the crash, he could hear a distinct sound coming from the car, the roof of which had been sheared off by the trailer. The car’s entertainment system, he said, seemed to be blaring a Harry Potter movie.

The driver acknowledged he could only hear the sound of the movie, not see it. And Tesla was quick to point out that its in-dash touchscreen is disabled from playing video, for exactly the reasons you’d guess (although hackers have found ways around that). But a Florida Highway Patrol sergeant told Reuters on Friday that a portable DVD player was found in the car.

This matters, not so much because it suggests that Brown may have been behaving recklessly—that’s a question for the legal system to sort out—but because it seems to corroborate skeptics’ fears about the perils of an autopilot system.

Tesla insists that its car’s ability to accelerate, brake, and steer on its own does not affect the human driver’s responsibility to pay full attention to the road at all times. But it certainly seems to affect people’s will to do so. And it’s fair to ask: If the autopilot system isn’t intended to reduce the driver’s mental load, why is it there at all?

Tesla will tell you it’s a safety feature: a second pair of eyes on the road, a second foot at the brake pedal. But if it means fewer actual human eyes on the road, then it’s going to be a tough sell to regulators unless the technology is nearly flawless.

Tesla says its autopilot system navigated 130 million miles of road before its first fatal accident, which is fewer deaths per mile than traditional cars. Realistically, it’s going to need to go a lot more than 130 million miles before the next death in order to satisfy regulators and the public that autopilot systems are trustworthy. The head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which is investigating the autopilot’s performance in the collision, has called for such systems to demonstrate that they’re at least twice as safe as human drivers.

In fact, some autopilot systems might already be safer than Tesla’s. Google’s self-driving cars have more sophisticated (and pricier) sensor arrays than the Model S, because they’re designed to be entirely autonomous. But they’re likely to take a PR hit too if Tesla’s system gets a bad rap.

We may never know exactly what Brown was doing, or how much attention he was paying to the road, when that truck turned in front of him. And a lawyer for Brown’s family, Paul Grieco, told me there are no plans to take legal action against Tesla until authorities have completed their investigation. In the meantime, Brown’s family does not seem intent on crusading against Tesla or self-driving cars. In a statement Friday, they said:

In honor of Josh’s life and passion for technological advancement, the Brown family is committed to cooperating in these efforts and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways.

That’s a generous sentiment, one that seems to be in keeping with Brown’s own faith in the power of technology. In this tragic instance, however, his faith in one particular technology appears to have been a little more than it deserved....

Tesla autopilot crash victim Joshua Brown was watching a movie when he died.
Driver in First Tesla Crash Was Watching 'Harry Potter' DVD

inverse.com · 2016

On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a preliminary investigation to determine if a defect in Tesla’s autopilot feature that caused the death of 40-year-old Josh Brown in Williston, Florida on May 7. Today, the driver of the truck that collided with the vehicle claims the Tesla owner was watching Harry Potter through a DVD player in the car.

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck that killed Brown, told the Associated Press that the Tesla Model S was driving so quickly that, “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him,” and claimed he was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash.

The initial police report made no mention of the movie, and Baressi admitted that he only heard, not saw the film playing. However, the Florida Highway Patrol told Reuters that a DVD player was found in the car.

Tesla said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen.

The Canton, Ohio native had previously posted a video of him narrowly avoiding a utility truck crossing his lane from the car’s blind spot, and admitted in the video’s description that he was not looking in the truck’s direction while using autopilot.

Tesla previously claimed that the sun reflecting off the white trailer of the truck was so bright that neither the autopilot feature nor the driver saw the vehicle merging lanes. However, the company also maintains that the autopilot feature was never intended to be fully autonomous in the first place, and instructs drivers to keep their hands on the wheel.

Tesla released a statement on Thursday calling Brown “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community,” and pointed out that there is a fatality for every 94 million miles driven in the conventional cars in the United States, and Tesla’s vehicles have already accumulated 1 billion miles before Brown’s death, the first fatality linked to the autopilot feature....

Driver in First Tesla Crash Was Watching 'Harry Potter' DVD
Tesla self-driving crash victim was watching Harry Potter during fatal incident

dailymail.co.uk · 2016

Joshua Brown, 40, had DVD player inside Tesla at time of crash, meaning he could have been watching Harry Potter film despite earlier claims by car firm

The first man to die behind the wheel of a self-driving car had a DVD player with him meaning it was possible for him to be watching a Harry Potter film as he died, police have revealed.

Joshua Brown, 40, a former Navy SEAL, was killed in Florida back in May after his computer-controlled Tesla Model S plowed into a tractor trailer despite the autopilot feature being on.

Tesla had previously said that it is impossible to watch films on the touchscreen tablets mounted in their vehicles, but police have now confirmed that Brown had another device with him that was capable of playing the movie.

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck, claims he heard the film at the time of the crash, and that it was still playing as the car careened into a telephone pole a quarter of a mile along the road near the town of Williston.

The exact details may never be known, however, as police say there was no internal camera recording the moments leading up to the fatal collision.

Officers also revealed that Brown had accumulated eight speeding tickets in recent years, as a friend described him as a speed freak who went in search of excitement.

Terri Lyn Reed, a friend and insurance agent in Ohio who covered Brown's business, said he was always up for an adventure and loved motorcycles and fast cars.

Reed says Brown 'had the need for speed', was 'kind of a daredevil' and had no fear.

Meanwhile family members said Brown was 'obsessed' with his Tesla car, which he had affectionately nicknamed 'Tessy'.

Tesla said it was impossible to watch films on car touchscreens (pictured), but it now seems likely he was watching it on another device

Friends described Brown as a 'daredevil' with a 'need for speed' as police revealed he had been given eight speeding tickets in recent years (Model S, pictured)

He also bragged about its sophisticated 'autopilot' system and the safety benefits, saying he had avoided a crash on the highway just weeks ago because of it.

Relatives added that they hope Brown's death can be used to make driverless technology safer for future users.

Tesla said its autopilot system failed to detect the truck because its white color was similar to that of the bright sky, adding that the driver also made no attempt to hit the brakes.

Baressi added that Brown 'went so fast through my trailer I didn't see him.'

By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla - with its roof sheared off completely - had come to rest in a nearby yard hundreds of feet from the crash site, assistant chief Danny Wallace of the Williston Fire Department said.

It has also emerged that Brown - who served in the Navy for 11 years - narrowly avoided a very similar smash earlier this year, when his car did not notice a white truck turning in on him on the freeway.

Tesla confirmed the man's 'tragic' death, but defended its vehicles, saying they were safer than other cars.

'This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated. Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles,' the company said in a statement.

Mr Brown had engaged the Autopilot on his Tesla and was apparently watching a film when the truck suddenly pulled in front of him. It is not known what speed he was doing

It said neither the driver nor the car hit the brakes as the trailer passed over the Tesla, with the self-driving vehicle colliding with the bottom of the truck.

The company claimed that had the trailer crashed into the front or the rear of the Model S, the driver would have survived.

The statement added that motorists should keep their hands on the wheel and 'be prepared to take over at any time'.

Tesla informed the NHTSA, which has launched an investigation. It has called for 'an examination of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash'.

The agency has not demanded a recall of the vehicles.

Brown psoted a video of his former close-call online along with an audio recording in which he describes what happened.

STEERING, AVOIDING CRASHES & PARKING: TESLA AUTOPILOT'S FUNCTIONS Autosteer: This feature, which is currently in beta, keeps the car in the current lane and engages Traffic-Aware Cruise Control to maintain the car's speed. Tesla requires drivers to remain engaged and aware when Autosteer is enabled and drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel. Auto Lane Change: When the driver flicks the indicator switch and turn signal, the Model S will move itself to the adjacent lane when safe to do so. Automatic Emergency Steering and Side Collision Warning: Side Collision Warning alerts drivers to objects, such as cars, that are too close to the side of Model S. When the car detects an object close to its side, fluid lines will appear around an image of the Model S image in the instrument panel. Autopark: When drivi...

Tesla self-driving crash victim was watching Harry Potter during fatal incident
Dead Tesla driver had speeding tickets, Harry Potter playing on DVD before crash, officials say

scmp.com · 2016

A still image from a YouTube video showing Joshua Brown in the driver's seat of his Tesla Model S with no hands on the steering wheel while he demonstrates the car's self-driving mode. Photo: AP...

Dead Tesla driver had speeding tickets, Harry Potter playing on DVD before crash, officials say
Tesla crash: DVD player found in car wreckage, amid reports driver was watching Harry Potter

abc.net.au · 2016

Tesla crash: DVD player found in car wreckage, amid reports driver was watching Harry Potter

Updated

A DVD player was found in the Tesla car that was on autopilot when its driver was killed in a collision with a truck in May, Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officials confirm, amid differing reports about whether Harry Potter was playing on the portable system after the accident.

Key points: "There was a portable DVD player in the vehicle," FHP Sergeant says

Unverified witness account suggests DVD player was playing Harry Potter after accident, lawyer for truck driver says

May be weeks before officials make final determination of cause of crash

FHP Sergeant Kim Montes said "there was a portable DVD player in the vehicle," but would not elaborate further. She also said there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage.

Whether the player was operating at the time of the crash has not been determined with witnesses who came upon the wreckage of the 2015 Model S sedan giving differing accounts about whether the player was showing a movie.

A man who lives on the property where the car came to rest said when he approached the wreckage, 15 minutes after the crash, he could hear the DVD player.

An FHP trooper on the scene told the property owner, Robert VanKavelaar, that a Harry Potter movie was showing on the DVD player, Mr VanKavelaar said.

However another witness, Terence Mulligan, said he arrived at the scene before the first Florida state trooper and found "there was no movie playing."

"There was no music. I was at the car. Right at the car," Mr Mulligan said.

Questions of why the car did not stop for a turning truck, and whether the victim, Joshua Brown, was watching the road are critical for Tesla Motors Inc.

The electric car maker is facing a preliminary inquiry by federal regulators over the safety of the Model S Autopilot system that was engaged at the time of the crash.

The autopilot system allows the car to keep itself in a lane, maintain speed and operate for a limited time without a driver doing the steering.

Tesla said in a statement: "Autopilot is by far the most advanced driver assistance system on the road, but it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility."

It could be weeks before officials make a final determination of the cause of the crash, the first known fatality of a Model S driver while using autopilot.

The FHP's Sergeant Montes said a Tesla engineer downloaded the information from the "black box" and shared it with FHP investigators.

The FHP has the ability to download information from newer vehicles about how the vehicle was being driven before a crash.

But it does not have the ability to download information from Tesla's data system, Sergeant Montes said.

Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were alerted by Tesla about the crash, and NHTSA officials first contacted the FHP last week, Sergeant Montes said.

The lawyer for the truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, said the Model S's data recorder had been removed before his investigators were able to see it.

The victim was identified in police reports and in obituaries as 40-year-old Joshua Brown. He was a Tesla enthusiast and a former Navy SEAL who ran a technology company in Ohio, according to social media accounts and his company's website.

A YouTube video account belonging to a Joshua Brown had a recently posted video showing a Tesla Model S automatically able to avoid a truck that veered into its lane.

Mr Weekley said that the top third of the Model S was sheared off the sedan while the rest of it went under the trailer and travelled about another 210 metres on the road and 60 more metres off the paved surface before coming to rest.

Mr Baressi, an independent owner-operator, was hauling a half-load of blueberries when the 18-wheeler he was driving made a left turn, attempting to cross the eastbound lanes of US Highway 27 Alternate near Williston, Florida.

Mr Baressi said he had waited to allow another car to go by, then was making the turn when he first saw the Tesla.

"I saw him just cresting the hill so I gave it the gas," said Mr Baressi, who said the Tesla was in the left of two eastbound lanes, or the passing lane.

But by the time the Tesla struck the white trailer carrying the blueberries, "he was in the slow (right) lane ... I thought he had a heart attack or something. I don't know why he went over to the slow lane when he had to have seen me," he said.

Tesla said the white trailer was not easy for the car's cameras to distinguish from the bright Florida afternoon sky.

The crash occurred on a sunny Saturday afternoon in May, according to the initial traffic report of the crash.

Reuters

Topics: science-and-technology, computers-and-technology, law-crime-and-justice, united-states

First posted...

Tesla crash: DVD player found in car wreckage, amid reports driver was watching Harry Potter
Tesla Driver May Have Been Watching Harry Potter Before Fatal Crash

vanityfair.com · 2016

The Tesla driver killed in a May 7 collision with a truck might have been watching a Harry Potter movie at the time of the crash while the car was in autopilot mode, according to one witness. Joshua D. Brown was killed when the Tesla Model S he was in crashed into the side of a tractor-trailer in Florida, leading to a government investigation of the car’s autopilot system.

Frank Baressi, the owner and operator of the truck, told the Associated Press that Brown was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash. Police confirmed that a portable D.V.D. player was found in the car, although they have not determined whether it was operating at the time of the crash.

“It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” Baressi said, acknowledging he didn’t see the movie play, but heard the dialogue.

In a statement, Tesla noted that it disables autopilot by default in its cars and “requires explicit acknowledgement that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase before it can be enabled.” During the time of the accident, both Brown and the autopilot system failed to apply the brake pedal, according to government records.

Tesla, one of several companies vying to bring self-driving cars to market, has warned car owners that its autopilot feature is not applicable to all road conditions and not reliable enough for a driver to stop paying attention. The accident is a setback for Elon Musk, Tesla C.E.O., who is working to grow the car brand from its largely tech-obsessed niche audience into the mainstream....

Tesla Driver May Have Been Watching Harry Potter Before Fatal Crash
Killed Tesla driver may have been watching Harry Potter

digitalspy.com · 2016

The man killed in the first known fatal crash of a self-driving car may have been watching one of the Harry Potter films when the collision happened.

According to the driver of the truck Joshua Brown's car crashed into, the man was "playing Harry Potter on the TV screen," at the time.

Frank Baressi also told the Associated Press that Brown "went so fast through my trailer I didn't see him".

He added: "It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road".

The driver was killed while using "autopilot" mode in a Tesla S sports car on May 7 in Williston Florida.

According to Reuters, a portable DVD player was found in the vehicle.

Tesla said in a statement that Brown was a "friend to Tesla and the broader EV community"....

Killed Tesla driver may have been watching Harry Potter
Man killed in Tesla auto-drive crash may have been watching Harry Potter

smh.com.au · 2016

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper on the scene said that a Harry Potter movie was showing on the DVD player. Another witness, Terence Mulligan, said he arrived at the scene before the first Florida state trooper and found "there was no movie playing." "There was no music. I was at the car. Right at the car," he told Reuters. Questions of why the car did not stop for a turning truck, and whether the victim, Joshua Brown, was watching the road are critical for Tesla Motors. The luxury electric car maker is facing a preliminary inquiry by federal regulators over the safety of the Model S Autopilot system that was engaged at the time of the crash in Williston, Florida. It could be weeks if not months before officials make a final determination of the cause of the crash, the first known fatality of a Model S driver while using Autopilot. Meanwhile, the accident is stoking the debate on whether drivers are being lulled into a false sense of security by such technology.

A Tesla Model S, the car model involved in the crash. Credit:AP Sergeant Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol said on Friday that "there was a portable DVD player in the vehicle," but wouldn't elaborate further on it. She also said there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage. Car roof sheared off Brown, 40, was the lone occupant of the Tesla and was killed in the crash that sheared off the roof of the car. He was a Tesla enthusiast and a former Navy SEAL who ran a technology company, according to his family and his company's website. Frank Baressi, 62, was the driver of the truck that was hit by a Tesla that Joshua D. Brown, was operating in self-driving mode. Credit:Tamara Lush

Mulligan said he was driving in the same westbound direction as the truck before it attempted to make a left turn across the eastbound lanes of U.S. Highway 27 Alternate when he spotted the Tesla travelling east. Mulligan said the Tesla did not appear to be speeding on the road, which has a speed limit of 65 miles per hour, according to the FHP. But the car never slowed down, and the remainder of the car, without a roof, kept the same speed after going under the trailer, Mulligan said. Lawyers for Brown's family released a statement Friday saying the family is cooperating with the investigations "and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways." The statement describes the accident as having been "caused by a semi tractor-trailer which crossed a divided highway and caused the fatal collision with Josh's Tesla."

No citations have been issued, but the initial accident report from the FHP indicates the truck driver "failed to yield right-of-way." The Tesla Autopilot system allows the car to keep itself in a lane, maintain speed and operate for a limited time without a driver doing the steering. Tesla said in a statement Friday, said Autopilot "does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility." Tesla said on Thursday that the white trailer was not easy for the car's cameras to distinguish from the bright Florida sky. An FHP report said the crash occurred on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Tesla shares fell in after hours trading Thursday after the fatality was disclosed, but rebounded to close up nearly 2 per cent in trading Friday.

Information from 'black box' The Florida Highway Patrol's Sergeant Montes said a Tesla engineer downloaded the information from the "black box" and shared it with FHP investigators. Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were alerted by Tesla about the crash, and NHTSA officials first contacted the FHP last week, Montes said. Paul Weekley, the lawyer for the truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, of Palm Harbor near St. Petersburg, said the Tesla's data recorder had been removed before his investigators were able to see it. Baressi, an independent owner-operator, said he saw the Tesla approaching in the left, eastbound lane. Then it crossed to the right lane and struck his trailer. "I don't know why he went over to the slow lane when he had to have seen me," he said.

VanKavelaar, a Walgreen's photo technician, said the car that came to rest in his yard next to a sycamore tree looked like a metal sardine can whose lid had been rolled back with a key. After the collision, he said, the car ran off the road, broke through a wire fence guarding a county pond and then through another fence onto VanKavelaar's land, threaded itself between two trees, hit and broke a wooden utility pole, crossed his driveway and stopped in his large front yard where his three daughters used to practice softball. They were at a game that day and now won't go in the yard. His wife, Chrissy VanKavelaar, said they continue to find parts of the car in their yard eight weeks after the crash. "Every time it rains or we mow we find another piece of that car," she said. Reuters...

Man killed in Tesla auto-drive crash may have been watching Harry Potter
Man Who Died in Self-Driving Tesla Crash Was Watching 'Harry Potter' Film During Wreck: Witness

insideedition.com · 2016

The Tesla owner who was killed while inside his self-driving car was watching a Harry Potter movie at the time, according to a witness.

Robert VanKavelaar told Inside Edition that Joshua Brown's wrecked car ended up in his yard outside Gainesville, Florida, after it smashed into a tractor-trailer in May.

Read: 66-Year-Old Bystander En Route to Anniversary Vacation Saves Woman From Smoking Car

"There was a movie playing," VanKavelaar said. "I could hear it... The police officer told me it was a 'Harry Potter' movie."

Police say they found a portable DVD player inside Brown's car. Tesla told Inside Edition that it's not possible to watch a movie on the vehicle's touchscreen display and no movie was playing at the time of the crash.

But in one online video, a hacker claims she too was able to override the car's systems to play Terminator 2 on its display.

Tesla said: "Tesla’s infotainment system firmware has never been able to play videos from anywhere on the vehicle touchscreen. The demonstration referenced was a risky and completely unsupported effort by one individual to run custom software on the center display, which completely replaced all of Tesla's functionality (e.g. navigation, media player). However, it is important to confirm that there was not a movie playing on the infotainment screen of the Tesla involved in the recent accident."

Brown, who had served in the fabled SEAL Team Six, the elite unit that took down Osama bin Laden, was killed after the crash on May 7.

In a statement after his death, Tesla said: "Neither autopilot, nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."

Read: Navy SEAL Killed While Behind the Wheel of Self-Driving Tesla

Since his death, it has also emerged that Brown had eight speeding tickets in six years. Most recently, he was allegedly clocked driving 64 MPH in a 35 zone.

Watch: Devastated Dad Breaks His Silence After Daughter Died in 'Texting' Crash...

Man Who Died in Self-Driving Tesla Crash Was Watching 'Harry Potter' Film During Wreck: Witness
Laptop and DVD player found in fatal Tesla Autopilot crash were not running when discovered, police say

electrek.co · 2016

There’s a new small detail but important development in the investigation of the fatal Tesla Model S crash while the Autopilot system was activated. We now learn that the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed that both a laptop and DVD player were found in the car, but that neither were running when found at the scene.

Sergeant Kim Montes confirmed the details to Reuters today:

“Neither the computer nor a DVD player also found in the vehicle was running after the crash, according to Sergeant Kim Montes, who said investigators could not determine whether the driver of the Tesla was operating either at the time of the crash.”

It goes against what the truck driver involved in the crash told the media after the accident. Speaking with Associated Press, Frank Baressi said the Tesla driver, Joshua Brown, was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

“It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” Baressi told The Associated Press. He later acknowledged that he couldn’t actually see the movie and only heard it. The police said that charges are pending against Baressi who didn’t yield the right of way when crossing the road in his semi-tractor trailer. In an ABC News report, another witness said that “a movie was playing on the dash”: NHTSA said that its evaluation of the accident is on-going. Our recent articles on the accident: Tesla driver dead in Autopilot crash credited the system for saving him in near miss caught on video

Tesla Autopilot crash: Images of the fatal accident’s aftermath emerge [Video]

Understanding the fatal Tesla accident on Autopilot and the NHTSA probe

Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe the podcast....

Laptop and DVD player found in fatal Tesla Autopilot crash were not running when discovered, police say
Tesla driver in fatal crash wasn't watching video, witness tells investigators

autonews.com · 2017

A witness who was one of the first people to approach the crash site following a fatal Tesla accident in Florida last year told federal investigators he did not see or hear a video playing in the car in the moments after it came to a stop.

A truck driver also involved in the crash previously told The Associated Press that he had seen Harry Potter playing in the car after the accident, but the new witness told investigators he never saw the truck driver at the crash scene in the hour or so he stayed on site to talk to emergency responders.

The accident happened May 7, 2016, and involved 40-year-old Tesla owner Joshua Brown, who was killed when his car crashed into a truck driven by 62-year-old Frank Baressi. Brown's car had Autopilot engaged at the time of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report on the crash Monday, including a transcript of an interview with one of the first witnesses on the scene. The witness, Terrence Mulligan, said he did not see any signs of a video playing, despite reports of the truck driver saying he heard a Harry Potter film playing from the vehicle.

"Everyone's asked me about a video," Mulligan said. "I can't tell you there wasn't one playing, but I did not see one playing and I didn't hear one playing, and I was at the car twice."

NTSB documents show that Baressi had trace amounts of marijuana in his system shortly after the crash. He was hauling blueberries in his truck, which was making a left across US-27 in Williston, Fla., when the Tesla rammed into the side of the trailer and went under the truck.

Baressi initially told police he didn't know what had hit the trailer. The Tesla traveled 910 feet after striking the trailer before it came to a stop. Later, he refused to talk to investigators and referred them to his attorney, the NTSB documents said.

The accident marked the first fatal incident involving semiautonomous driving technology. When the crash was first reported in June, the driver of the truck Brown collided with claimed Brown was "playing Harry Potter on the TV screen," according to the Associated Press. Police reports on the scene do not include details on a video, and Tesla said at the time that it is not possible to watch a video on the vehicle's touchscreen.

Mulligan said there was a black and yellow toolbox on the back seat of the Tesla, which had had its roof shorn off. He said it was clear upon arriving at the car that Brown had died. Emergency responders offered Mulligan emotional support to help him deal with the gravity of the scene.

In January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed its investigation into the crash, determining that Tesla was not at fault.

The NTSB investigation is still ongoing. In the documents released on Monday, the agency also reported that Brown's hands had not been detected on the wheel for 37 minutes before the crash. The vehicle had given visual and auditory warnings to the driver to put his hands back on the wheel....

Tesla driver in fatal crash wasn't watching video, witness tells investigators
Tesla death smash probe: Neither driver nor autopilot saw the truck

theregister.co.uk · 2017

American crash investigators have thrown open their files on a fatal motorway collision between a Tesla Model S and a truck, confirming Tesla’s earlier statement that its autopilot failed to notice the truck blocking the car’s path.

The accident, which happened in May last year on US Highway 27A in Florida’s Levy County, left the 40-year-old driver, Joshua Brown, a US Navy Seal turned networking hardware company owner, dead after the collision.

Freshly unsealed US National Transportation Safety Board investigation documents reveal that Brown's last action was to set the cruise control to 74mph. That's enough above the 65mph speed limit but no so far that the cops would bust you unless ticket quotas were tight.

According to data recovered from the car, Brown's final trip lasted 37 minutes, from buckling in until the crash. During that time he had his hands on the wheel for 25 seconds and relied on the car's software the rest of the trip. The car issued six audible warning alerts that he'd spent too long with his hands off the wheel.

But then a truck slowly pulled out of a side road onto the highway, and the Tesla smashed into its trailer and passed underneath “in a cloud” of debris, according to the report. The trailer lacked side guards that would have stopped the car from going under and Brown suffered fatal head injuries.

“Well, the car didn’t stop. So I didn’t come to a complete stop. I did a quick U-turn. I didn’t know where it was going to go,” said a witness Terrence Mulligan, describing how the car came over a hill and crashed into its trailer. “I mean, my first thought was 'it’s not stopping'.”

Mulligan followed the Tesla, observing how the golf-shirted driver “flopped right over immediately” and yet the car kept on going at speed: “I knew he wasn’t in control of the car ... I thought the cruise control was stuck on.”

The Tesla eventually stopped after driving off the road, along the side of a pond and through a stand of trees, Mulligan said. The NTSB report found that the airbags did not deploy when the car hit the truck, but did when it hit the trees – although by that point Brown was probably already dead.

The Model S involved in the crash was not fitted with a data recorder. Tesla itself provided the NTSB with data from the car’s ECU, which was running version 7.1 of Tesla’s firmware. The car recorded that it was doing 74mph “up to and just after the crash.”

“The driver brake applied parameter remained in the not applied state up to and after the collision,” noted the NTSB, revealing that Brown made no attempt to stop or slow down immediately before the collision.

One of the graphs drawn up from the Tesla’s ECU data by the NTSB

“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 high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield,” said Tesla in a statement after the crash last year.

The trailer that Brown’s Tesla Model S hit, with impact damage circled (Pic: US NTSB)

Truck driver Frank Baressi, 62, of Tampa, Florida, had previously claimed Brown was watching a DVD at the time of the crash. Mulligan told investigators he could not say either way whether any film was playing in the vehicle once he reached the crash site, while NTSB investigator Jane Foster stated in her report: “No Harry Potter movie file was found on the hard drive” of Brown’s Asus laptop.

His Chromebook, however, was “too damaged for normal data recovery” – and a micro SD card found in the wreck did contain parts of the Harry Potter films’ soundtracks. It was unclear whether the card was inserted in any of the devices found in the crashed Tesla.

Brown “was a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission. We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” Elon Musk’s company said in a statement after his death.

Tesla itself faced no further action from the NTSB as a result of the crash, said the agency in January this year. ®

Sponsored: Becoming a Pragmatic Security Leader...

Tesla death smash probe: Neither driver nor autopilot saw the truck
A new report on what happened in the fatal Tesla Autopilot crash.

slate.com · 2017

The top third of a Tesla Model S was sheared off in a fatal collision with a tractor-trailer truck in Florida last year. Robert VanKavelaar/Handout via Reuters

In May 2016, the inevitable happened: A Tesla driver was killed in a crash while his car was on Autopilot, the company’s impressive yet controversial semiautonomous driving software.

Tesla and authorities reported at the time that the Model S had “passed under” a semitrailer that had been making a left turn across traffic on a Florida freeway, with the trailer shearing the top off the car. But other details were sketchy, including how fast the Tesla had been going, how the driver failed to see the semitruck in broad daylight, and whether the vehicle’s Autopilot system had warned the driver in any way. The truck driver told the Associated Press that he had heard what sounded like a movie blaring from the car after it came to a rest farther down the highway.

This week, the National Transportation Safety Board cleared up some lingering questions when it published the factual findings of its investigation into the crash. The driver had indeed been going hands-free—and not just a little bit. According to the 538-page report, the driver had been using Autopilot for 37 minutes, out of which he had placed his hands on the wheel for a grand total of just 25 seconds. This despite seven separate visual warnings from the system, which flashed the message, “Hands required not detected.” Clearly the driver was determined to use Autopilot as if it were a fully autonomous driving system, rather than the safety mechanism that Tesla says it is meant to be.

However, reports that the driver had been watching a Harry Potter movie, perhaps on an in-dash DVD player, appear to have been unfounded. The NTSB’s main witness to the crash, who saw the car up close after it came to a stop, said there was no audio or video entertainment system playing. (The truck driver who had told the AP he thought he heard a movie playing in the car admitted he was not close enough to the vehicle to see anything or to be certain of what he heard.)

We may never know what the Model S driver was paying attention to instead of the road at the time of his fatal accident. We do know that he took no evasive action whatsoever. The NTSB report says he had set the software to a cruising speed of 74 mph shortly before the crash, and it was apparently still going that speed when the car hit the truck’s trailer broadside.

Interestingly, that suggests the truck driver could have foreseen the crash—if he had assumed the car would maintain a constant speed. The witness said the Model S was visible to the truck over the crest of a rise in the freeway for “several seconds” before the truck began its left turn. The implication is that the driver either didn’t see the Model S coming or assumed—perhaps naturally, given the truck’s size and visibility—that the Tesla’s driver would brake or change lanes to avoid the collision. That seems like a safe assumption when the driver is human but perhaps less so when the driver is an automated system. (Samuel English Anthony wrote compellingly last year about some of the expectations problems that can arise when autonomous systems and human drivers share the road.)

To be clear, this is conjecture: The truck driver declined to be interviewed by the NTSB and reportedly claimed to the Florida Highway Patrol that he didn’t see the Tesla coming. Still, it points to one of the big problems for autonomous driving systems, which is that their behavior might be logical on paper yet surprising to other drivers accustomed to sharing the road with fellow humans.

The NTSB report does not yet offer any analysis or conclusions as to who was at fault in the crash. That will come in a follow-up to this factual presentation of the evidence. However, Reuters reports that the truck driver has been charged with a right-of-way violation and is due to appear in court Wednesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded its own investigation in January without finding that Tesla’s Autopilot system was a safety hazard. In fact, it estimated that the software reduces the likelihood of an accident by 40 percent, which is a compelling statistic in Tesla’s favor. But that was a broader probe of the system’s overall safety more than it was an assessment of the specifics of the fatal Florida crash. (I reported last August on one particularly dramatic instance in which the system may have saved a driver who suffered a pulmonary embolism while at the wheel.)

So what can we take away from the fatal accident now that a year has passed and key facts have been established?

First, it was a sobering reminder that autonomous driving software, for all its impressive achievements, remains far from perfect. Tesla’s Autopilot may have saved more lives than it has cost, but there are still circumstances in which it is prone to error in ways that an attentive human driver never would be.

Second, Tesla...

A new report on what happened in the fatal Tesla Autopilot crash.
Driver Of Self-Driving Tesla Was Watching Harry Potter At Moment Of Death

zerohedge.com · 2019

In what turned out to be a case of morbid irony, last night we reported that Josh Brown, the 40 year old (non) driver of the Tesla which fatally crashed into a truck on May 7 in Florida while in self-driving mode when the car's cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn't automatically activate its brakes, had as recently as a month earlier praised his "Tessy's" autopilot feature in a YouTube clip.

Tesla Model S autopilot saved the car autonomously from a side collision from a boom lift truck. I was driving down the interstate and you can see the boom lift truck in question on the left side of the screen on a joining interstate road. Once the roads merged, the truck tried to get to the exit ramp on the right and never saw my Tesla. I actually wasn't watching that direction and Tessy (the name of my car) was on duty with autopilot engaged. I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the "immediately take over" warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision.

He was so enamored with the feature, in fact, that as AP reported overnight, he was watching TV at the moment of the deadly crash.

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck and owner of Okemah Express LLC, said the Tesla driver was "playing Harry Potter on the TV screen" at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that "he went so fast through my trailer I didn't see him."

"It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road," Baressi told The Associated Press in an interview from his home in Palm Harbor, Florida. He acknowledged he couldn't see the movie, only heard it.

Frank Baressi, 62, was the driver of the truck that was hit by a Tesla that

Joshua D. Brown was operating in self-driving mode.

As AP adds, the Florida Highway Patrol said on Friday that it found an aftermarket digital video disc (DVD) player in the wreckage of the car. "There was a portable DVD player in the vehicle," said Sergeant Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol in a telephone interview with Reuters.

Brown's published obituary described him as a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations Inc., working on wireless Internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Brown's work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.

According to preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when Baressi's rig turned left in front of Brown's Tesla at an intersection of a divided highway where there was no traffic light, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. Brown died at the scene of the crash, which occurred May 7 in Williston, Florida, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. The city is southwest of Gainesville.

By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla — with its roof sheared off completely — had come to rest in a nearby yard hundreds of feet from the crash site, assistant chief Danny Wallace of the Williston Fire Department told The Associated Press. The driver was pronounced dead, "Signal 7" in the local firefighters' jargon, and they respectfully covered the wreckage and waited for crash investigators to arrive.

The Tesla death comes as NHTSA is taking steps to ease the way onto the nation's roads for self-driving cars, an anticipated sea-change in driving where Tesla has been on the leading edge. Self-driving cars have been expected to be a boon to safety because they'll eliminate human errors. Human error is responsible for about 94 percent of crashes.

This is not the first time automatic braking systems have malfunctioned, and several have been recalled to fix problems. In November, for instance, Toyota had to recall 31,000 full-sized Lexus and Toyota cars because the automatic braking system radar mistook steel joints or plates in the road for an object ahead and put on the brakes. Also last fall, Ford recalled 37,000 F-150 pickups because they braked with nothing in the way. The company said the radar could become confused when passing a large, reflective truck.

The technology relies on multiple cameras, radar, laser and computers to sense objects and determine if they are in the car's way, said Mike Harley, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book. Systems like Tesla's, which rely heavily on cameras, "aren't sophisticated enough to overcome blindness from bright or low contrast light," he said. Harley called the death unfortunate, but said that more deaths can be expected as the autonomous technology is refined.

Others were more direct: Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said the accident is a huge blow to Tesla's reputation. "They have been touting their safety and they have been touting their advanced technology," he said. "This situation flies in the face of both."

Brauer said Tesla will have to repair the damage in two ways. First, the company needs to make sure its customers understand that autopilot is meant to assi...

Driver Of Self-Driving Tesla Was Watching Harry Potter At Moment Of Death
Tesla didn’t fix an Autopilot problem for three years, and now another person is dead

www.theverge.com · 2019

On May 7th, 2016, a 40-year-old man named Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S sedan collided with a tractor-trailer that was crossing his path on US Highway 27A, near Williston, Florida. Nearly three years later, another Tesla owner, 50-year-old Jeremy Beren Banner, was also killed on a Florida highway under eerily similar circumstances: his Model 3 collided with a tractor-trailer that was crossing his path, shearing the roof off in the process.

There was another major similarity: both drivers were found by investigators to have been using Tesla’s advanced driver assist system Autopilot at the time of their respective crashes.

Autopilot is Level 2 semi-autonomous system, as described by the Society of Automotive Engineers, that combines adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, self-parking, and, most recently, the ability to automatically change lanes. Tesla bills it as one of the safest systems on the road today, but the deaths of Brown and Banner raise questions about those claims and suggest that the Tesla has neglected to address a major weakness in its flagship technology.

THERE ARE SOME BIG DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO CRASHES

There are some big differences between the two crashes. For instance, Brown and Banner’s cars had completely different driver assistance technologies, although both are called Autopilot. The Autopilot in Brown’s Model S was based on technology supplied by Mobileye, an Israeli startup since acquired by Intel. Brown’s death was partly responsible for the two companies parting ways in 2016. Banner’s Model 3 was equipped with a second-generation version of Autopilot that Tesla developed in house.

That suggests that Tesla had a chance to address this so-called “edge case,” or unusual circumstance, when redesigning Autopilot, but it has, so far, failed to do so. After Brown’s death, Tesla said its camera failed to recognize the white truck against a bright sky; the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) essentially found that Brown was not paying attention to the road and exonerated Tesla. It determined he set his car’s cruise control at 74 mph about two minutes before the crash, and he should have had at least seven seconds to notice the truck before crashing into it.

TESLA HAD A CHANCE TO ADDRESS THIS SO-CALLED “EDGE CASE,” WHEN REDESIGNING AUTOPILOT, BUT IT HAS FAILED TO DO SO

Federal investigators have yet to make a determination in Banner’s death. In a preliminary report released May 15th, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) said that Banner engaged Autopilot about 10 seconds before the collision. “From less than 8 seconds before the crash to the time of impact, the vehicle did not detect the driver’s hands on the steering wheel,” NTSB said. The vehicle was traveling at 68 mph when it crashed.

In a statement, a Tesla spokesperson phrased it differently, changing the passive “the vehicle did not detect the driver’s hands on the steering wheel” to the more active “the driver immediately removed his hands from the wheel.” The spokesperson did not respond to follow-up questions about what the company has done to address this problem.

In the past, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has blamed crashes involving Autopilot on driver overconfidence. “When there is a serious accident it is almost always, in fact maybe always, the case that it is an experienced user, and the issue is more one of complacency,” Musk said last year.

The latest crash comes at a time when Musk is touting Tesla’s plans to deploy a fleet of autonomous taxis in 2020. “A year from now, we’ll have over a million cars with full self-driving, software, everything,” he said at a recent “Autonomy Day” event for investors.

Those plans will be futile if federal regulators decide to crack down on Autopilot. Consumer advocates are calling on the government to open up an investigation into the advanced driver assist system. “Either Autopilot can’t see the broad side of an 18-wheeler, or it can’t react safely to it,” David Friedman, vice president of advocacy for Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “This system can’t dependably navigate common road situations on its own and fails to keep the driver engaged exactly when needed most.”

“EITHER AUTOPILOT CAN’T SEE THE BROAD SIDE OF AN 18-WHEELER, OR IT CAN’T REACT SAFELY TO IT”

Car safety experts note that adaptive cruise control systems like Autopilot rely mostly on radar to avoid hitting other vehicles on the road. Radar is good at detecting moving objects but not stationary objects. It also has difficulty detecting objects like a vehicle crossing the road not moving in the car’s direction of travel.

Radar outputs of detected objects are sometimes ignored by the vehicle’s software to deal with the generation of “false positives,” said Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Without these, the radar would “see” an overpass and report that as an obstacle, causing the vehicle to slam on the brakes.

On the computer vision side of the equation, the algorithms using the camera output need to be trained to detect trucks that are perpendicular to the direction of the vehicle, he added. In most road situations, there are vehicles to the front, back, and to the side, but a perpendicular vehicle is much less common.

“Essentially, the same incident repeats after three years,” Rajkumar said. “This seems to indicate that these two problems have still not been addressed.” Machine learning and artificial intelligence have inherent limitations. If sensors “see” what they have never or seldom seen before, they do not know how to handle those situations. “Tesla is not handling the well-known limitations of AI,” he added.

Tesla has not yet explained in detail how it intends to fix this problem. The company releases a quarterly safety report about the safety of Autopilot, but that report is short on details. That means experts in the research community don’t have hard data that would allow them to compare the effectiveness of Autopilot to other systems. Only Tesla has 100 percent understanding of Autopilot’s logic and source code, and it guards those secrets closely.

“We need detailed exposure data related to when, where, and what conditions drivers are leveraging Autopilot,” said Bryan Reimer, a research scientist in the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, in an email to The Verge, “so that we can begin to better quantify the risk with respect to other vehicles of a similar age and class.”

Other Tesla owners have spoken out about Autopilot’s problem of perceiving trucks in the vehicle’s path. An anonymous Twitter user who uses the handle @greentheonly “hacked” a Model X and posts observations on Twitter and YouTube. They did this to “observe Autopilot from the inside,” they said in an email to The Verge. In March, their Model X encountered a tractor-trailer perpendicular to their path, similar to both Brown and Banner. The vehicle would have tried to drive underneath the truck had the driver not intervened.

According to @greentheonly’s data, the semi was not marked as an obstacle. But they decided not to tempt fate: “I did not try to approach the trailer and see if any of the inputs would change (but I bet not).”...

Tesla didn’t fix an Autopilot problem for three years, and now another person is dead