After 130 million miles driven with Tesla’s autopilot, there has been a fatal crash involving the system.
When considering all vehicles on the road in the USA, there is typically a fatality every 100 million miles driven. When considering all vehicles worldwide, there is typically a fatality every 60 million miles driven.
It appears that the main issue in this accident was that Tesla’s autopilot did not distinguish between a large white truck and the brightly lit sky behind it. Tesla released this statement after the crash:
“What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”
After this incident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be reviewing the role that Tesla’s autopilot had in the crash.
Our thoughts are with the victim and his family.