Following multiple investigations into fatal Autopilot-related crashes, the NTSB found that Tesla's capabilities of monitoring driver behavior were insufficient.
Among its recommendations, the board said automakers, standards bodies and NHTSA should all develop better applications and rules for monitoring the state of human drivers.
In April, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an industry trade group that notably does not count Tesla among its members, outlined a set of safety principles to address the growing call for driver-monitoring systems.
But those voluntary principles don't wrangle with the thorny problems involved in putting driver-assist systems on the road. They say merely that foreseeable misuse of systems should be "evaluated," for example.
Where the NTSB reports said clearly that Tesla's method of monitoring driver engagement by measuring steering wheel torque was insufficient, the alliance merely says that camera-based cabin systems — preferred by many driver-assist purveyors — should be "considered."
The middling nature of the principles is a smaller problem, perhaps, compared with the embryonic state of driver-monitoring technology. Basic inward-facing camera systems may ensure a driver's head is directionally facing the road ahead. Better systems may track a driver's eye gaze, even through sunglasses.
What's most effective, however, may not necessarily be a vehicular schoolmarm that chirps at a human driver when their attention has already strayed or they've already made an error that needs correction.
"Prediction is the key for prevention," said Erez Aluf, co-founder and active chairman of Adam CogTec, an Israeli startup working on technology that can measure a driver's cognitive capabilities and contribute to enhanced human performance.