We may remember the world of autonomous driving was taken by storm when the first reported fatal crash of a vehicle using these new technologies took place in America.
On May 7, Joshua Brown was on board a 2015 model year Tesla Model S and was using the Autopilot system at the time of the fatal crash that saw the vehicle impact a tractor trailer on a highway in Florida. During the time of the fatal incident, the semi-autonomous Autopilot system was on, with the Autosteer lane-keeping assistance system and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control also engaged. Now, authorities involved in the preliminary investigation have found the electric sedan to have been doing 74 mph (119 km/h) in an area that had a 65 mph (105 km/h) speed limit.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigators have confirmed the systems were working at the time of the accident and the model also had the automatic emergency braking function. But somehow neither the driver nor the Model S safety and assistance systems reacted when the tractor trailer crossed its path – with the vehicle impacting the rear and sliding beneath the trailer, with Brown losing his life. Alongside the NTSB, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said last month it was opening a “preliminary” investigation to assess the “design and performance of any automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash.” Tesla so far has only said about the crash that “neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”