Tesla Explains Autopilot Accident Causes Which Kills Driver

Posted: Jul 2 2016, 6:11am CDT | by , in Cars & Vehicles


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Tesla Explains Autopilot Accident Causes Which Kills Driver
Credit: Getty Images
  • Driver of Tesla Car killed due to Accident while on Autopilot Mode

A driver of a Tesla car was killed due to an accident while the vehicle was on Autopilot Mode.

A Tesla Model S had a crash killing the driver in the process. The Autopilot Mode had been activated. This is the first such instance of a human death taking place in a Tesla car while the Autopilot was active.

The auto conglomerate informed the public in its blog regarding this tragedy. Also the NHTSA has been notified and it is currently looking into the matter. The exact reasons behind the car crash will be uncovered soon enough though.

The car crash occurred on a bifurcated highway in mainland Florida. A tractor trailer was driving across the highway adjacent to the Model S. The thing is that neither the driver nor the Autopilot Mode of the car managed to note down the arrival of the oncoming tractor trailer.

The driver is always responsible for any mishap that takes place with reference to his or her car. Even with the Autopilot activated, this is a given and cannot be ignored. The glare of light from the bright morning sun probably played a role in the crash.

Since the brakes were not applied in the nick of time, the accident took place. The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk responded to the tragic event by saying that the radar of the car was useless too.

That was because what was ahead looked like a road sign and thus the accident could not be avoided. Due to the great height of the trailer, the car simply went underneath it and that was when the impact occurred.

A man named Joshua Brown was driving the car and died while the truck driver was not injured in the accident. Autopilot Mode has been used in Tesla cars for approximately 130 million miles until now.

Elon Musk reiterated that the system was in a testing phase. It was not a complete safety factor against any occurrence. On the contrary, the driver must keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times. This was so as to be on the safe side.

"It is important to note that Tesla disables Autopilot by default and requires explicit acknowledgement that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase before it can be enabled. When drivers activate Autopilot, the acknowledgment box explains, among other things, that Autopilot “is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times," and that "you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using it," Tesla said in a statement.

"Additionally, every time that Autopilot is engaged, the car reminds the driver to “Always keep your hands on the wheel. Be prepared to take over at any time.” The system also makes frequent checks to ensure that the driver's hands remain on the wheel and provides visual and audible alerts if hands-on is not detected. It then gradually slows down the car until hands-on is detected again," added Tesla.

"We do this to ensure that every time the feature is used, it is used as safely as possible. As more real-world miles accumulate and the software logic accounts for increasingly rare events, the probability of injury will keep decreasing. Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert. Nonetheless, when used in conjunction with driver oversight, the data is unequivocal that Autopilot reduces driver workload and results in a statistically significant improvement in safety when compared to purely manual driving."

There are those who have criticized Tesla Motors for trying to build something which does not measure up to the hype it created in the first place.

As for the NHTSA, it has launched a full-fledged investigation into the causes of the crash. The thing to determine is whether the crash occurred due to human error or flaws in the machinery. Sometimes, it is due to a combination of both.

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