A Tesla driver in Florida suffered and died in a car crash when he struck a tractor-trailer. This is the first fatal accident in history where a computer was manning the wheel.
The crash happened when the truck turned left across the 2015 Model S Tesla's course and the car's autopilot was not able to slow down. The driver was Joshua David Brown. A 40 year old local of Ohio. His accident has now become the focus of vehicle automation. Will the future of automated car travel suffer because of this accident? Or will Tesla learn from this event?
A Tesla driver that was killed in an automated car raises questions regarding the car's safety. According to reports, there is a difference between assisted driving technology and full automation. Tesla's car technology is the former.
Tesla's autopilot consists of a forward-facing camera and radar system. It has ultrasonic sensors that is mounted around the car for situational awareness. The camera can read speed signs and watch lane markings. The sensors can detect when cars get too close within 16 feet. The autopilot has control over the basic parts of the car like the brakes and the steering wheel but it is not the automation everyone is thinking. It is a kind of autopilot that has an advanced cruise control. Tesla has announced in the past that the feature is designed to make driving more comfortable "when conditions are clear."
However, the conditions were not clear during the time of the crash. As the truck turned left, both the driver or the car could detect the white colored body of the truck from the sky. Tesla Motors explained that because of that, the Tesla Model S did not slow down.
The question everybody is looking at with regards to safety is the reaction time of the car which has compromised a Tesla driver.