NTSB Criticizes Apple After Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash for Not Banning Employee Smartphone Use While Driving

The United States National Transportation Safety Board today conducted a hearing dissecting the fatal 2018 crash of Apple engineer Walter Huang, who was using the autopilot feature of a Tesla Model X, reports CNBC.


The NTSB called Tesla's Autosteer feature "completely inadequate" and said that Tesla's forward collision warning system did not provide an alert, nor did the automatic emergency braking system activate, but the board also had some choice words for Apple.

At the time of the crash, Huang was playing a game on his company-issued development iPhone. He was not paying attention to the road and likely did not have his hands on the steering wheel as the Tesla was in Autopilot mode.
So first let me say, if you own a car with partial automation, you do not own a self-driving car. Don't pretend that you do. This means that when driving in the supposed "self-driving" mode: you can't sleep; you can't read a book; you can't watch a movie or TV show; you can't text; and, you can't play video games. And, that is precisely what we found in this crash - the driver was playing a video game on his smartphone when his car veered into the median barrier.
In a statement, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt criticized Apple for not having a policy that prevents employees from using their iPhones while driving.
Let me circle back to the issue of driver distraction - one that involves the role of employers. Employers have a critical role in fighting distracted driving. At the NTSB, we believe in leading by example. Over a decade ago, under the leadership of my former colleague and NTSB chairman, Debbie Hersman, NTSB implemented a broad-reaching policy which bans using Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) while driving. We know that such policies save lives.

The driver in this crash was employed by Apple - a tech leader. But when it comes to recognizing the need for a company PED policy, Apple is lagging because they don't have such a policy.
During the hearing, the NTSB said [PDF] that employers play an important role in preventing distracted driving. A strong policy is an effective strategy for cutting down on distracted driving, and Apple has no policy that prohibits cell phone use while driving.

Apple in a response provided to CNBC, said "We expect our employees to follow the law." In California, where the crash took place, there are distracted driving laws that prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, even in vehicles with an autopilot mode.

Apple has also implemented a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature that activates when a driver attempts to use a cellular phone while driving, though it can be disabled.

The NTSB's goal is to get all employers to implement and enforce policies that ban the use of personal electronic devices while driving.

Tag: Tesla

This article, "NTSB Criticizes Apple After Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash for Not Banning Employee Smartphone Use While Driving" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Said to Have Made ‘Serious Bid’ of ~$240 Per Share to Acquire Tesla Around 2013

It has long been rumored that Apple plans to compete in the electric vehicle market in some capacity, ranging from supplying other automakers with underlying technologies to developing its own vehicle entirely, and new information suggests that Apple may have been eyeing a major acquisition to boost its efforts.


Namely, Apple is said to have made a "serious bid" for Tesla around 2013, offering around $240 per share. That's according to Craig Irwin, a senior analyst at investment firm Roth Capital Partners, who said he has "complete confidence" in this information, but he doesn't know if the bid reached a "formal paperwork stage."

"Around 2013, there was a serious bid from Apple, at around $240 a share," said Roth, speaking on a CNBC video highlighted by AppleInsider. "This is something we did multiple checks on. I have complete confidence this is accurate."


"I don't know if it got to a formal paperwork stage, but I know from multiple different sources that this was very credible," he added. "So, right now, Apple is building multiple, very large dry rooms in California… they're doing something interesting and exciting on the battery side… Project Titan is absolutely not dead."

Tesla had 114.5 million shares outstanding as of January 31, 2013, and that number increased throughout the year, so Apple's bid would have totaled at least $27.4 billion at the time. Now, the electric vehicle maker's shares are trading around the $203 mark, well below Apple's reported bid years ago.

Tesla's technologies and facilities, including its assembly plants in California and Nevada, certainly would have helped Apple's so-called "Project Titan" automotive ambitions in big ways, but the extent of Apple's plans are still unclear.

A recent report said Apple is seeking LiDAR units that are "smaller, cheaper and more easily mass produced" than current systems, which can cost over $100,000 and are considered "too bulky and prone to failure" for use in mass-produced vehicles. Apple is said to be "setting a high bar" with demands for a "revolutionary design."

Last year, Apple rehired its former VP of Mac hardware engineering Doug Field to work on Project Titan after a five-year stint as Tesla's engineering chief. Apple has a team of about 1,200 employees working on the project, according to court documents, but recent restructuring led to 190 layoffs.

Apple has been developing and testing autonomous driving software out on the streets of Cupertino, California using Lexus SUVs since early 2017. It's still unclear if we'll ever see a so-called Apple Car, but analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes a release wouldn't be until 2023 to 2025 either way.

Tag: Tesla

This article, "Apple Said to Have Made 'Serious Bid' of ~$240 Per Share to Acquire Tesla Around 2013" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Tesla to Restock Sold-Out Wireless Phone Charger at a Discount

Tesla is notifying customers that it will soon restock its wireless phone charger at a discount, after the device quickly sold out when it was released late last month.


The Verge reports that emails are going out to customers informing them that the Tesla Wireless Charger, originally costing $65, will return to the electric car maker's online store at a roughly $15 discount, thanks to a higher production run this time around.

The battery-powered Qi-based charger features a sleek white or black enclosure, a 6,000 mAh battery for charging on the go, 5W of output, a built-in USB-C cable for Android devices, and a USB-A port that supports faster wired charging.

Tesla says customers who purchased the charger when it first went on sale in August will be refunded the $16 difference, but the company omitted to mention when the discounted version will be available. We'll update this post if we learn more.

Tag: Tesla

Discuss this article in our forums

Tesla Debuts $65 5W Battery-Powered Qi Wireless Charger [Updated]

Tesla today launched a new battery-powered Qi-based wireless charger that's designed for iPhones and Android devices that support wireless charging.

Priced at $65, the Tesla Wireless Charger features a 6,000mAh battery so it can be used for charging while on the go. According to Tesla, it's been constructed using the "same design language" used in Tesla energy products like Powerwall, featuring a sleek black or white enclosure.


In addition to wireless charging, the Tesla Wireless Charger includes a built-in USB-C cable for charging USB-C Android devices. For non-USB-C devices, there's a USB-A port that can be used for faster wired charging. A built-in USB-A cable is used to charge the Wireless Charger from any USB-A port.


According to Tesla, the wireless charging is limited to 5W, which is slower than the faster 7.5W charging that is available on the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus. Other 5W chargers can be purchased on Amazon for as little as $10, which means Tesla is charging quite a premium for the Tesla branding and design of this accessory.


The Tesla Wireless Charger can be purchased from the Tesla website for $65.

Update: It appears Tesla may have removed the Wireless Charger from its website as the store links to the device no longer work nor does a search on the site bring it up.


Discuss this article in our forums

Nomad Debuts New Tesla Wireless Charger Made to Fit Model 3 Vehicles

Nomad today announced the launch of a new wireless charging accessory that's been designed specifically with new Tesla Model 3 vehicles in mind.

The Tesla Wireless Charger is a wireless charging dock developed for the iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and future iPhones, which fits perfectly into the Tesla Model 3 dash and connects to the two USB-A ports in the car.


With the dual USB-A connection and a built-in 6,000mAh battery, the Tesla Wireless Charger offers 2A for faster 7.5W charging for Apple's iPhones, with two wireless chargers built into the device. With the dual setup, you can wirelessly charge two devices at once. While designed for iPhone, this is a Qi wireless charging setup that will charge any Qi-based device.


An anti-slip rubber base is included to keep your devices in place while on the road, and for smaller phones, Nomad is including optional spacers. Built-in LEDs let you know if your phone is charging or fully charged at a glance.


Nomad is selling the Tesla Wireless Charger for $150, but a $20 discount is available for customers who pre-order the accessory from the Nomad website starting today. Shipments of the Tesla Wireless Charger will begin on September 1.

Tags: Tesla, Nomad

Discuss this article in our forums