Deadly crash raises self-driving car safety questions

Deadly crash raises self-driving car safety questions

Deadly crash raises self-driving car safety questions A man has been killed in the first known fatal accident involving a self-driving car.

It was revealed Thursday that the driver of a Tesla Model S electric car was killed in an accident that occurred when the car was in self-driving mode, the New York Times reported. The accident occurred May 7 in Florida.

The Florida Highway Patrol identified the driver as Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio. Brown was a Navy veteran who owned a technology consulting firm. In a news release, Tesla said Brown “spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology.”

Federal regulators are still setting guidelines for the use of autonomous vehicles. They have opened a formal investigation into the accident, according to the Times.

The National Highway Traffic Administration said that preliminary investigation has found that the crash occurred when a tractor trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla, which failed to apply the brakes.

Tesla wouldn’t say whether the technology or the driver was at fault, the Times reported.

“Neither the autopilot nor the driver notices the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied,” the company said in a news release.

The crash comes at a bad time for Tesla and other companies investing in self-driving technology.
Google recently announced plans to adapt 100 Chrysler minivans for autonomous driving, and earlier this year GM acquired a software firm to help its own autonomous driving efforts, the Times reported. But many doubt that the technology is advanced enough for the government to approve the general use of self-driving cars.

The National Highway Traffic Administration, meanwhile, has set a high bar for the technology. Agency head Mark Rosekind said at a recent conference that self-driving cars should be at least twice as safe as human drivers in order to significantly slash traffic deaths.

“We need to start with two times better,” Rosekind said. “We need to set a higher bar if we expect safety to actually benefit here.”

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