Last May 7 45-year-old Joshua Brown was killed when his car hit a truck just outside Willston, Florida. His Tesla was operating in ‘autopilot mode’ and he was the first death in a driverless car accident.
Now the investigation and the speculation into the Mr Brown’s unfortunate demise begin. It’s worth watching to see how the accident will change public perception and government regulation of autonomous vehicles.
What’s notable is Tesla are careful not to recommend leaving the car to its own devices, as The Verge reports.
Tesla reiterates that customers are required to agree that the system is in a “public beta phase” before they can use it, and that the system was designed with the expectation that drivers keep their hands on the wheel and that the driver is required to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle.” Safety-critical vehicle features rolled out in public betas are new territory for regulators, and rules haven’t been set.
Another aspect that should concern users and regulators is Tesla’s software industry attitude towards liability and safety in dismissing the car’s flaws as being an unfortunate consequence of imperfect beta software. That may cut it in the world of Microsoft Windows 3.11 but it doesn’t cut it when lives are at stake in the motor industry.