National Transportation Safety Board Issues New Recommendation for Driver Monitoring in Autonomous Vehicles

Mar 2, 2020

by ASME.org

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) met to determine the cause of the fatal crash of a Tesla Model X in California on March 23, 2018. NTSB found that not only was the Tesla Autopilot system at fault due to system limitations, but also that the driver’s diverted attention was a key contributing factor in the crash. NTSB concluded that driver was unable to potential correct the system failure as his attention was likely focused on a cell phone game, due to an overreliance on the technology. NTSB further put the onus on Tesla, stating that the vehicle was ineffective at monitoring driver engagement, thereby facilitating the driver’s inattentiveness. As a result of the investigation, NTSB issues a set of new recommendations, which include mandatory standards for driver monitoring systems in partially automated vehicles.

NTSB built upon previous recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, among other entities. NTSB’s new recommendations to NHTSA include:

  1. Expand New Car Assessment Program testing of forward collision avoidance system performance to include common obstacles, such as traffic safety hardware, cross-traffic vehicle profiles, and other applicable vehicle shapes or objects found in the highway operating environment.
  2. Evaluate Tesla Autopilot-equipped vehicles to determine if the system’s operating limitations, foreseeability of driver misuse, and the ability to operate the vehicles outside the intended operational design domain pose an unreasonable risk to safety; if safety defects are identified, use applicable enforcement authority to ensure that Tesla Inc. takes corrective action.
  3. For vehicles equipped with Level 2 automation, work with SAE International to develop performance standards for driver monitoring systems that will minimize driver disengagement, prevent automation complacency, and account for foreseeable misuse of the automation.
  4. After developing the performance standards for driver monitoring systems recommended in Safety Recommendation H-20-X, require that all new passenger vehicles with Level 2 automation be equipped with a driver monitoring system that meets these standards.

For more information, please visit: https://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/NR20200225.aspx.

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