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The Latest: Drivers can misuse semi-autonomous cars

Posted September 12

— The Latest on a safety board meeting on semiautonomous control systems in cars (all times local):

11 a.m.

Investigators say manufacturers of semi-autonomous control systems in cars aren't including protections that prevent drivers from misusing the technology.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say a man killed last year while using the semi-autonomous control systems of his Tesla Model S sedan had his hands on the steering wheel only 25 seconds out of the 37.5 minutes the control systems were in use.

The Model S is a level 2 vehicle on a self-driving scale of 0 to 5, with level 5 being a vehicle capable of self-driving under nearly all circumstances.

Level 2 automation systems are generally limited to use on limited-access highways. Drivers are supposed to continuously monitor vehicle performance and be ready to take control if necessary.

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9:40 a.m.

The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board is cautioning drivers that they can't simply turn the driving over to the semiautonomous control systems of the cars on the market today.

Robert Sumwalt says it's important to make that clear that there are no self-driving cars available for sale despite "all the messages out there" about autonomous vehicles. He says today's automation systems augment, rather than replace, human drivers.

Sumwalt made his remarks as he opened an NTSB meeting to determine the likely cause of a crash last year that killed a man using the semiautonomous driving systems of his Tesla Model S sedan.

It's the first known fatal crash of a highway vehicle operating under automated control systems.

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3:05 a.m.

Investigators will meet to determine the likely cause of a crash last year that killed a man using the semi-autonomous driving systems of his Tesla Model S sedan.

The case has raised questions about the ability of automakers to keep the attention of drivers engaged as new technology allows them to cede greater control to their vehicles.

The National Transportation Safety Board takes up the crash Tuesday, the same day Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is scheduled to unveil safety guidelines for automakers seeking to market self-driving cars. The board's recommendations often carry weight with regulators.

Tech company owner Joshua Brown of Ohio had Tesla's cruise control and lane-keeping systems engaged when the vehicle failed to stop for a semitrailer turning left onto a highway near Gainesville, Florida, in May 2016.

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