Tesla Autopilot Technology Under Investigation After Fatal Crash

Eric Lieberman | Associate Editor

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now investigating Tesla and their Autopilot technology after it was reported that a crash in early May had killed a driver while the feature was being employed.

In a blog post published earlier today, Tesla expressed sorrow for the incident, but stressed “this is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated.” They then go on to cite traffic fatality statistics, communicating the sentiment that accidents happen.

“It is important to emphasize that the NHTSA action is simply a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations,” the letter read.

Tesla wrote the deceased man “had a loving family and we are beyond saddened by their loss. He was a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.”

Tesla referred to “a brightly lit sky” and a reflection as a contributing factor. The company admits that the Autopilot capability is not perfect, but asserts that “data is unequivocal that Autopilot reduces driver workload and results in a statistically significant improvement in safety when compared to purely manual driving.”

Tesla is already in hot water for a number of other controversies, including malfunctioning doors and accusations of forbidding customers from talking to the government about the defects. Tesla even had to update their nondisclosure clause to restore faith in the public that it does not constrain customers’ ability to talk to authorities about errors.

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