A Tesla Model S was involved in a fatal accident while its Autopilot System was active. It is the first known fatality involving a Tesla while the driver is using the Autopilot System.
The accident occurred on May 7th in Williston, Florida, but the company did not publicize the crash until they posted a blog post earlier today. It happened on a divided highway.
A tractor trailer drove across the road perpendicular to and in front of 40-year-old Joshua Brown. The Autopilot System did not notice the high-rise tractor trailer, and neither did Brown. A very bright sky is being thrown out as a reason behind the system not seeing the semi.
As a result, the vehicle drove underneath the semi, causing the windshield to collide with the underbody of the trailer.
The NHTSA is opening a preliminary evaluation into the performance of Autopilot as a result of this accident to determine whether or not the system worked according to expectations.
In the blog post, Tesla quotes what the vehicle reminds drivers to do when Autopilot is activated: “Always keep your hands on the wheel. Be prepared to take over at any time.”
Also, Tesla requires that those who chose to enable the Autopilot System become aware that it is still in a public beta phase.