The driver of a Tesla Model S lost his life when the car collided with a tractor while being driven in the Autopilot mode in Williston, Florida.
The accident is under investigation and marks the first fatal accident related to the semi-autonomous driving mode of Tesla vehicles. Commenting on the crash, Tesla revealed that the Model S EV was driving down a divided highway when it was cut across by a white trailer, moving perpendicularly to the Model S.
The Autopilot did not register the trailer running in front of the car and did not apply brakes. As both the Autopilot and the driver did not apply brakes, the Model S crashed right into the tractor.
Tesla reckons that the white trailer might have been difficult to spot against the brightly lit sky. The trailer was quite high, and the car ran under it, hitting its windshield on the container of the trailer. The automaker believes that the “Advanced crash safety system” of the Model S could have saved the life of its passenger if the front of the vehicle had hit the trailer.
Tesla expressed its grief over the sad loss of the precious life:
“The customer who died in this crash had a loving family and we are beyond saddened by their loss. He was a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission. We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”
It is noteworthy to mention here that the Autopilot mode configured by Tesla is still in beta, and the company keeps reminding its customers to keep their hands on the wheel and be vigilant.
NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has opened an investigation regarding the accident.
The driver of the Model S, who lost his life in the fatal accident, has been identified as Joshua Brown, an enthusiastic member of the Tesla Reddit forum. Previously, Elon Musk had tweeted this video shared by Brown as his Model S avoided a collision while driving in the Autopilot mode: