An unusual incident occurred in Florida last year as a man was killed while driving a Tesla’s semi-autonomous system. It was hard to diagnose whether the accident was fault of the driver or the company. Many investigations are held and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reached to a conclusion the company cannot be held responsible whatsoever.
The name of the victim was Joshua Brown who was driving his Model S, suddenly went right underneath a white tractor. Later, it was found that the car was on autopilot mode. Suddenly, Tesla was all over the news but for all the wrong reasons. The company started receiving a lot of backlash from the consumers as the NHTSA started the inquiry right away. Many people started to demand that the autopilot mode needs to be disabled so that there should be no more incidents to happen like that in the future.
However, after thorough investigation, it was revealed that the driver was at a high speed and was not focusing on the road as he was reportedly watching a Harry Potter movie in his car. So, the NHTSA has held a media briefing with Bryan Thomas, Communications Director. They reached a conclusion that its not Tesla’s fault and they are not to be held responsible for it. Musk tweeted this news right after the NHTSA made their announcement.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 19, 2017
However, this investigation does not indicate who to blame but whether the autopilot mode has a legit defect or not. Although this system is declared safe but the problem is the lack of knowledge on using this system accurately. This system is actually a level 2 category of automation, and according to this, it can only perform some parts of driving, so the driver must keep an eye on the road and perform rest of the operations.
To conclude, such type of systems does not allow the driver to be completely independent. He/she must be fully attentive while driving. Moreover, companies should not just introduce such systems but also provide information to use such systems safely and accurately.