Driver of Tesla killed in first fatal crash while in autopilot mode
By Paul Homewood
From the Telegraph:
It is believed that the crash, which took place in Florida on May 7, is the first fatality involving a “self-driving” car. The driver was named by several American news outlets as Joshua Brown from Ohio.
The Tesla’s autopilot mode deploys an array of safety technology including an automatic braking system, designed to bring the vehicle to a halt ahead of a possible collision.
It also uses cameras, sensors and radar to steer the car and prevent it from colliding with anything else on the road.
Mr Brown posted a number of videos of the car’s autopilot system in operation including one which was seen a million times after being tweeted by Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive.
According to an obituary, Mr Brown was a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations Inc., working on wireless Internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Brown’s work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.
A spokesman for Tesla said the features were intended to keep the car in its lane and designed for motorway driving only.
When putting the car into autopilot, drivers are instructed to keep their hands on the steering wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times.
The accident is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S,” Tesla said in a statement.
“Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.
Would the driver still be alive if he had not been using the driverless technology? We don’t know, but it seems likely he would have been paying much more attention.
In my view, these cars are being rushed onto roads with obscene haste for reasons of political correctness.
Certainly, the Tesla autopilot should now be banned until it can be proven to be totally safe.