Technology has come a long way in the last few decades, but who’d have thought that “self-driving” cars would ever be a thing?
The idea beyond this revolutionary piece of technology is that vehicles with autonomous driving systems will make the roads safer since they reduce human error; the main cause of accidents.
But the truth is, there have been fatal accidents in vehicles with semi-autonomous features.
Just last week, news emerged that a Tesla Model X car crashed in California, tragically killing the driver:
Well, Tesla is now saying that the vehicle in question was operating on Autopilot, its partial self-driving system.
The fatal crash which occurred on 23 March in Moutain View is the most recent car accident where self-driving technology played a major part.
Unfortunately, this was not the only fatal crash of its kind. Last month, a self-driving Volvo SUV which was being tested by the popular ride-hailing service, Uber, in Arizona hit and killed a pedestrian.
The crash in California alongside a Tesla Model S car crash, which occurred in January, is being looked into by federal investigators. It is believed that the Model S car was operating under the Autopilot system.
In a blog post, Tesla also said the driver of the car that crashed in Mountain View, 38-year-old Apple software engineer, Wei Huang, “had received several visual and one audible ‘hands-on’ warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider… but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”
Tesla, a company which specializes in electric cars, also revealed that the concrete highway divider had been damaged before the fatal crash, making the impact much more lethal than it would have been otherwise. The car had also caught fire, although Tesla claims no one was inside when that happened.
According to the company, its Autopilot feature can change lanes, maintain safe speeds and self-park. However, it requires the driver to remain attentive as to what is happening on the road and keep their hands on the wheel so that they are still in control in the event of a potential accident.
The company maintains that while accidents are unlikely with their autopilot feature, not every accident is preventable.
We would like to express our condolences on the loss of lives that such accidents have led to.