Safety tension boils over at hearing on Autopilot

The National Transportation Safety Board has investigated landmark car crashes involving self-driving vehicles, and its findings could shape the future of a technology the auto industry has spent billions of dollars developing.

Is anybody paying attention?

Robert Sumwalt isn’t so sure. The NTSB chairman lamented last week that few are listening to the federal agency charged with probing crashes so that safeguards can be implemented and future tragedies averted.

In a hearing Tuesday, Feb. 25, that stemmed from a fatal crash involving Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist system, he said California highway agency Caltrans, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the automaker had not yet provided responses to questions from the NTSB regarding the crash, which killed Walter Huang. Nearly two years have passed since the March 23, 2018, crash, and Sumwalt’s frustration was palpable.