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Tesla driver killed in crash with Autopilot active, NHTSA investigating

"Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect…"

It did not take long for the first auto pilot car to get into an accident.  These types of automotive advances open up a whole new concern for motorist.  Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have been investigating defective automotive defects for over 30 years and with a team of highly trained investigators, they are able go beyond the shear face value of accident and look into the underlying cause.

A Tesla Model S with the Autopilot system activated was involved in a fatal crash, the first known fatality in a Tesla where Autopilot was active. The company revealed the crash in a blog post posted today and says it informed the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the incident, which is now investigating.

The accident occurred on a divided highway in central Florida when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither the driver — who Tesla notes is ultimately responsible for the vehicle’s actions, even with Autopilot on — nor the car noticed the big rig or the trailer "against a brightly lit sky" and brakes were not applied. In a tweet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the vehicle's radar didn't help in this case because it "tunes out what looks like an overhead road sign to avoid false braking events."

Because of the high ride-height of the trailer, as well as its positioning across the road, the Model S passed under the trailer and the first impact was between the windshield and the trailer. Tesla writes that if the car had impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, the car’s safety systems "would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents."

The accident occurred May 7th in Williston, Florida with 40-year-old Ohio resident Joshua Brown driving. The truck driver was not injured.

Tesla says Autopilot has been used for more than 130 million miles, noting that, on average, a fatality occurs every 94 million miles in the US and every 60 million miles worldwide. The NHTSA investigation, Tesla says, is a "preliminary evaluation" to determine if the Autopilot system was working properly, which can be a precursor to a safety action like a recall.

The first fatality in a Tesla in Autopilot mode has now opened the door to potentially more recalls.

Some autonomous driving experts have criticized Tesla for introducing the Autopilot feature so early, with a Volvo engineer saying the system "gives you the impression that it's doing more than it is." In other words, the car handles most situations so smoothly that drivers are led to believe that the car can handle any situation it might encounter. That is simply not the case!

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective automotive product, defective product or negligence of another, call Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today at 561-655-1990.  The call and case evaluation are free.

Source: The Verge

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