Last week Tesla made headlines when one of its Model S Sedan cars crashed into a fire truck in Utah. The driver walked away with minimal injuries, though the car was completely destroyed. The driver was a 28 year old woman who ostensibly had autopilot on. The car was going 60 miles per hour and she had her hands off the steering wheel because she was texting. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the crash but won’t say why.
The driver seems at fault here because she didn’t obey protocol. She removed her hands from the steering wheel over a dozen times and failed to watch the road. There is no sign the autopilot failed but the investigation wants to make that clear.
The investigation and press coverage has attracted the ire of Tesla CEO Elon Musk who says the press is unjustly focusing on the crash for sensationalism and not reporting on the hundreds of other crashes that occur in the US and claim lives. He did admit however, that Autopilot needs to be perfected.
Tesla has admitted in the past that Autopilot doesn’t guarantee complete relegation of responsibility and that strict protocols need to be followed to ensure safety.