In a recent blog post, Tesla Motors revealed that NHTSA has opened a preliminary evaluation into the performance of the Autopilot feature which is currently in public beta testing phase.
The company also revealed that the evaluation was kick started after a Tesla Model S with its Autopilot activated got involved in a fatal accident in Florida on May 7. This is the first such incident involving a self-driving Tesla.
The Autopilot takes care of most of hurdles without bothering the driver but it still requires human supervision.
If the NHTSA investigation finds out that the accident occurred due to a malfunctioning Autopilot system, there could be an extensive recall campaign and even legal proceedings.
The accident took place when the Tesla Model S was driven on a divided highway with the Autopilot activated. Neither the driver nor the car’s Autopilot system noticed the tractor-trailer that was driving across the road perpendicular to the Tesla’s direction. The driver missed the truck against a brightly lit sky while the high ride height of the trailer was dismissed by Autopilot’s program which is designed to avoid false braking events.
The first impact was experienced between the windshield and the trailer. Had the car’s front fascia made the first contact with the trailer, the numerous passive safety systems would have kicked in to mitigate the occupant’s injury. The investigation is on and Tesla has expressed its deepest sympathies to the victim’s family.
The Autopilot’s capabilities could easily be taken for granted by the drivers.
The automaker says that though the Autopilot takes care of several hurdles without bothering the driver, it is imperative for the human to stay alert and be ultimately responsible for the vehicle’s actions.
2017 Tesla Model S – Photos
Via – Teslamotors.com