Tesla Model S driver killed whilst car is in Autopilot mode

#hashtags: #An American #Tesla Model #Autopilot #Reuters #May 7 #Williston #Florida #NHTSA #Tesla

An American man has been killed whilst his Tesla Model S was driving itself in the semi-autonomous Autopilot mode.

According to Reuters, the incident took place on May 7 near Williston, Florida, and is currently being investigated by US’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The agency told The New York Times, “Preliminary reports indicate the vehicle crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection on a non-controlled access highway”.

In a blog post, Tesla Motors said: “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 says that this is the first known fatality in a Model S where the Autopilot system was active. So far Model S drivers have used Autopilot for a total of 209 million kilometres.

According to the electric car maker, in the US there’s a death for every 151 million kilometres driven. Globally, there’s a fatality every 97 million kilometres driven.

The Autopilot system present on Tesla Model S sedans and Model X SUVs requires drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel. If the driver takes their hands off the wheel, the system will eventually notice, and give out visual and audio alerts before gradually bringing the car to a halt.

The Californian automaker insists that “the data is unequivocal that Autopilot reduces driver workload and results in a statistically significant improvement in safety when compared to purely manual driving”.

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