The world of autonomous cars is expanding and more car manufacturers are getting into the game.
Last year, Tesla’s Model S saloon overtook Nissan Leaf to become the best-selling electric vehicle in the world and it cued into autonomous features to do so.
Part of the reason for the Model S being a hit was the Autopilot feature, which was marketed as an assistance for drivers.
It allows the car to keep in lane, adjust its speed as other cars cut in, and change lane without the driver needing to intervene.
The firm’s chief executive Elon Musk at the time of release had announced the software update as better and insisted that drivers must keep their hands on the wheel when using the Autopilot feature.
Tesla Motors announced in a blog post today that it had been made aware that one of its Model S electric cars was involved in a fatal accident on May 7, while the car’s “autopilot” function was enabled. The driver of the Tesla car died in Florida in May after colliding with a lorry.
US authorities are already investigating the first death potentially caused by self-driving technology.
In the statement, Tesla has said that it appeared the Model S car was unable to differentiate “the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky” that had driven across the car’s path.
Tesla described the incident as a tragic loss but more than that, the accident is probably proof of the need to remain alert in this period of improving upon autopilot features.
Many videos have been uploaded to the internet showing Tesla owners testing the software’s ability to operate hands-free, and even people intentionally trying to ram their cars into oncoming traffic.
The incident could serve as a serious blow to the reputation of autonomous technology at a time when regulators are considering ways of introducing them to public roads safely.