On May 7TH 2016 there was a car accident that claimed the life of Joshua Brown. The reason why this accident is important is because the driver was using the semi-autonomous Autopilot feature on his Tesla Motors Model S. The feature in question was speeding at the time according to the report that was created by the NTSB (Nation Transportation Safety Board). The driver was driving 74 MPH in a posted 65 MPH area. The NTSB Investigators confirmed that the driver had engaged the Autopilot system, & that the Autosteer lane-keeping assistance & Traffic-Aware Cruise Control were functioning. The Tesla Motors Model S also was equipped with an automatic emergency braking designed to apply the brakes to either avoid or mitigate a frontal collision. There is an on-going investigation into the actual cause of the accident but that won’t be completed for some time. It is said that neither the Autopilot system or the driver braked when a truck turned across its path and the collision occurred. The driver is the first person killed in a motor vehicle crash in which an autonomous feature was engaged during the time of the accident. The NTSB is looking into what role the technology played in the fatal accident. Tesla Motors has stated that their Autopilot is a “beta” technology, & that human motorists agree to remain responsible when the semi-autonomous feature is in use and being used.
What comes to mind when you see that we have had our first accident from a car that was on Autopilot? Everyone was very excited when we had backup camera’s and self-parking cars but is the technology ready to be used in real world settings? The maker of the chip that supplies the Autopilot feature feels that the scenario that created the accident was not equipped to stop the accident as the camera wasn’t designed to handle that type of situation.
In the end is it the drivers fault? The systems fault? Or Both for the accident? It is easy to point fingers but in the end if the future is going to be moving towards self-driving cars, then the technology needs to be better along with the human side that plays a key role in this whole scenario.