Tesla avoids recall as Autopilot exonerated over fatal crash

Tesla will not be forced to recall cars featuring the controversial Autopilot software after US regulators decided to close a six-month investigation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined the death of a driver in Florida was not caused by a defect within the vehicle.

In May last year Johsua Brown died while using Autopilot on his Model S, but today’s announcement clears the semi-autonomous feature of any blame.

At the time Tesla says Autopilot was unable to detect the white side of the vehicle against the bright sun.

Since that incident, Tesla has announced plans to launch improvements to Autopilot early in 2017 and has reiterated the need for drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all time.

Related: What is Tesla Autopilot

If anything, Autopilot emerges from the NHTSA investigation, which blames an “extended period of distraction (at least 7 seconds),” with more credit.

The full report points out a fall in the 40% crash rate when Autopilot is engaged. It also states Tesla fairly evaluated the “unreasonable risk to safety” that may be presented by driver misuse.

In closing, the report said: “A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted. Accordingly, this investigation is closed.

“The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that no safety-related defect exists. The agency will monitor the issue and reserves the right to take future action if warranted by the circumstances.”

Head-to-Head: Is Tesla Autopilot Safe? 

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