Tesla’s Driverless Car Fatality
Recent reports suggest that US Transport Investigators are looking into the fatal crash of a driverless car manufactured by Tesla.
The occupant of the Tesla vehicle was using the autopilot function on the car when it was involved in the fatal incident back in May. This was the first ever fatality recorded in over 130 million miles of using their automated system. The incident has caused major concern for the car industry as all car manufacturers are looking to introduce and develop at the automated technology in the future.
Since the incident, Tesla have issued a statement explaining how neither the vehicle’s occupant, nor the autopilot detected the tractor drive across the highway and therefore the brake was not applied.
Tesla went on to add that due to the high ride of the trailer, combined with the positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the accident, the automated vehicle passed under the trailer and its windscreen collided with the undercarriage of the vehicle. Needless to say, the incident puts Tesla’s self-driving car developments at significant risk.
Unlike their competitors, Tesla had decided to make their technology and tests visible to the public. After this accident, however, Tesla may decide to re-think this approach so as not to be at the forefront of such media attention if the technology gives rise to any accidents in the future.
All driverless Teslas are fitted with 360 degree cameras and on-board computers which can react quicker than a human can. However when it comes down to road and weather conditions the vehicles are in no way safer than humans as the technology cannot react to road conditions.
It is for this reason that one has to question whether driverless cars are in fact safer than humans.
Safety with all motor vehicles is always the most important factor and therefore measures have to be taken to ensure that drivers are safe, even if they’re not driving the vehicle. There is however, always the slim chance that technology can fail and therefore it can be argued that having an actual driver can always be safer than simply relying on the technology in hope that it will not fail.
Tesla have stated that the driver was responsible for the vehicles actions even when in autopilot mode, meaning that a driverless car concept does in fact need a driver to be switched onto the road as If they’re the ones driving. This ultimately proves that a driver must always be in control of a vehicle, even if there is an autopilot function available.