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Tesla Autopilot: U.S. investigates fatal crash

When the world was still in order: a Model S was involved in a crash. (Photo: Tesla)

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Angelo Rychel
Angelo Rychel
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Has self-driving technology claimed its first victim? U.S. authorities are looking into a fatal accident.

In May 2016, a Tesla Model S electric sedan car collided with a lorry in Williston, Florida. The Tesla driver did not survive the crash. The incident has now become public, as an investigation gets underway in the U.S. The main focus will be on the Autopilot function of the vehicle, which was activated at the time.

Tesla is one of the leading companies advancing automated driving technology, with the Autopilot function introduced in October last year.

According to a statement from Tesla, “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”

Tesla is trying to put the incident into perspective: in its statement, the carmaker stresses that "this is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated." Tesla adds that among all vehicles in the U.S., there is a fatality every 94 million miles driven, whereas worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles.

If it turns out that automation was the cause of the accident, it will be the first crash of its kind. And a symbolic incident in the evolution of driverless technology. A greater analysis of the event will be available on our website soon.

Read the statement from Tesla here and a news article from the BBC here.

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Angelo Rychel
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