This week Tesla disclosed the first known death caused by a self-driving car. Joshua Brown was involved in a fatal accident on May 7, when his Model S sensor system failed to discriminate between a bright white sky and the bright white side of a large 18-wheel truck crossing the highway. A release by Tesla admits that the autopilot system is “not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”
Brown was a Navy veteran and avid enthusiast of the electric vehicle company, posting videos of his adventures in his Model S. Tesla acknowledged his commitment to their mission in a statement about the incident, yet also reminded the public that the autopilot system requires constant awareness from the driver and employs a variety of features to encourage drivers to stay attentive.
The accident, which took place in Williston, Florida, is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which reported that Brown died at the scene from the impact of the semi tearing through the top of his car. Tesla’s statement explains that neither the autopilot nor Brown applied the brakes.
Tesla has recently hinted that the affordable Model 3 will be equipped with self-driving capabilities, so the technology isn’t going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, neither are people’s tendencies to push limits or succumb to human error. The benefits of autopilot assistance are abundant, as are the precautions drivers must take to use it safely.
You can read Tesla’s full response to the accident here.
Via The Guardian
Images via Flickr