Tesla: Accidents show that cars do not recognize motorcycles at night

Tesla: Accidents show that cars do not recognize motorcycles at night


Two Tesla car crashes, apparently on automated tests, are drawing the attention of federal regulators and pointing to a potential problem on U.S. highways: Partially automated vehicles may not recognize motorcycles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent investigation teams into two accidents last month in which Tesla cars collided in the dark on the highway with motorcycles. In both there were deaths.

The agency suspects that Tesla’s partially assisted operating system was used in each of these incidents. NHTSA said that once it gathers more information, it may include these crashes in a broader investigation into Tesla vehicles hitting emergency vehicles parked on the side of the highway.

The road safety agency is further investigating more than 750 complaints of Tesla’s car braking for no reason. Michael Brooks, director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, called on NHTSA not to allow Tesla’s Autopilot because it doesn’t recognize motorcyclists, emergency vehicles and pedestrians.

“It is clear to me, and it should also be clear by now to Tesla car owners, that this system is not working properly, will not meet expectations and is putting innocent people at risk on the road.”said Brooks.

Since 2016, NHTSA has sent investigators to 39 crashes in which autonomous driving systems are suspected of being used, 30 of which involved Tesla vehicles and which resulted in 19 deaths. Brooks criticized the agency for continuing to investigate but not making any determinations.

Tesla president Elon Musk has eliminated the use of radar in his systems, meaning they rely only on cameras and computer memory. Brooks and others concerned about vehicle safety say the lack of radar impairs night vision.