A tragic loss https://t.co/qrRa3PZrBx
— Tesla (@TeslaMotors) June 30, 2016
As reported by the Mirror, the crash, which occurred in Williston, Florida, involved a 2015 Tesla Model S. The Tesla collided with a tractor trailer when the trailer attempted to make a left turn in front of them. At the time of the crash the car was operating in Autopilot.
What does this mean for Tesla?
Based on the fatality, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a preliminary investigation into Tesla’s autopilot system. In the company’s statement, Tesla claims that this was the first fatality in more than 130 million miles where Autopilot has been activated. They went on to add that the crash had taken place under “extremely rare circumstances.”
According to the statement,
“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. Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, it’s advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents.”
Tesla began selling cars equipped with its Autopilot system in October of 2015. Autopilot includes features like automatic lane changing, auto steering, and self parking.