The Autopilot feature of Tesla’s vehicles is facing increased scrutiny following a tragic car accident in California that resulted in the death of a teenager and a baby. Federal officials have launched an investigation into the driver assist technology.
On July 5, a 2018 Tesla Model 3 carrying a family including a baby, parents, an elderly uncle, and a six-year-old son, was involved in a head-on collision with a 2013 Subaru Impreza driven by a 17-year-old named Andy Martinez.
Martinez passed away, but baby Charlie remained on life support in the hospital until he also passed away. The other Tesla passengers suffered serious injuries.
Autopilot has been the focus of several investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These investigations have examined over thirty crash incidents, involving Tesla, resulting in twenty-two fatalities, where the Autopilot system may have been used. The system assists drivers with steering, braking, and accelerating.
NHTSA typically opens more than 100 “special” crash investigations annually into emerging technologies and other potential auto safety issues that have, for instance, previously helped to develop safety rules on air bags.
This July 5 tragedy underscores the question: is the tech safe for public roads, especially with Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s relentless claims that the vehicles are on the brink of fully driving themselves? A New York Times report last year found that nobody really knows, because there’s a lack of verifiable data.
Reference- New York Times, Reuters, GoFundMe, South Tahoe Now, Futursim