Tesla Motors recently confirmed that Joshua Brown, 40 of Ohio was killed whilst testing the vehicle’s auto pilot mode- a development that will undoubtedly cause concern in the recently booming auto-vehicle industry.

Mr Brown had put the vehicle into the Tesla autopilot mode on 07 May whilst driving in Florida but the car’s sensors failed to identify a large 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the highway. The attempted to drive at full speed under the trailer “with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S” according to Tesla’s blog post

A report in the Levy County Journal said that the top of the vehicle was “torn off by the force of the collision”. The driver of the 18-wheeler, Frank Baressi of Florida was uninjured.
America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an inquiry into the accident.

Tesla has been quick to point out that this is the first death in over 130 million miles driven by the self-driving cars however this will be of little comfort or reassurance to those following the development of this industry. A statement from Tesla went on to say that the car’s auto software is designed to encourage consumers to keep their hands on the wheel to ensure that they’re paying attention. “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert” the company said, which almost sounds like an attempt to shift the blame for the tragedy.

 
The appeal of the self-driving technology is obvious but this incident will surely serve as a reminder that people are being asked to put their life in the hands of a computer code when they relinquish control of the vehicle.

This article was written by expert Motoring Lawyer Neil Sargeant.

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