Federal authorities in the United States are investigating Tesla Motors after a fatal car accident involving one of their self-driving cars. The crash happened on May 7th, and the driver who was operating the Tesla vehicle passed away. The accident occurred in Williston, Florida, because a tractor-trailer came onto the intersection and collided with the Tesla car. It is unclear whether the car’s autopilot system was at fault, or whether it was driver error on the part of the tractor-trailer driver or the person operating the Tesla vehicle at the time.
For their part, Tesla has been fairly open about the reasons for the accident and what happened. They released a statement on their website where they mentioned that the car’s autopilot system might not have recognized the tractor trailer as it started to intersect onto the road, because the very front of the trailer was white, and the sky was very bright at the time of the accident. This means that the car’s brakes were not activated until it was too late.
While many will gain a new level of skepticism about Tesla and self-driving cars because of the accident, we must note that it is the first time a fatality has occurred during an autopilot session involving a Tesla vehicle. And the Tesla car has operated on autopilot for around 130 million miles across the United States.
Tesla is adamant that their autopilot system is on the right track. They know there are problems and kinks within the autopilot system that must be tweaked, but that is why they are doing such rigorous testing of the system. They want to ensure that the autopilot system is 100 percent functional before attempting to get permission from the relevant government agencies to sell these self-driving cars to the general public.
Even though incidents such as the accident in Florida are going to give people pause regarding self-driving cars, most experts are adamant that self-driving cars will provide us with a safer alternative to driving cars ourselves. Experts believe that if every vehicle on the road were self-driven, there would be 1.25 million fewer deaths around the world every YEAR. Car manufacturers believe that self-driving cars should hit the market in some capacity by 2020, which gives Tesla and other companies plenty of times to iron out any problems with their self-driving systems.
It is also expected that rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft will eventually transition from having drivers to a fleet of self-driving vehicles.