Self-driving cars are the future of automobiles, but that future may be
much further away than researchers and engineers were originally anticipating.
In late June 2016, a fatal car accident in Florida was allegedly caused
by a self-driving Tesla, casting a shadow of doubt over the functionality
and safety of the current technology.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),
who is working closely with Tesla, the Model S electric sedan was confirmed
to be in self-driving mode when the fatal
car accident occurred. It is believed that a white tractor trailer made a left in front
of the Tesla and that the vehicle’s autonomous cameras were unable
to distinguish the bright colors of the trailer from the sky, which would
have been a similar tint at that time of day. The vehicle drove straight
under the truck, killing the driver; the vehicle then ran itself off the
road, plowed through two fences on an adjacent property, and bounced off
a power pole before coming to a stop.
When Will Self-Driving Be Safe?
Tesla has defended its technology in a roundabout way in light of the news
of the fatal traffic collision. Company representatives have stated that
it would appear that the driver also did not notice the bright white tractor
trailer, alluding to the notion that the accident was not necessarily
caused by faulty camera. Tesla has also stated, without putting direct
blame on the driver, that self-driving modes still require the driver’s
full attention to take over at a moment’s notice to prevent collisions.
Even with their reassurances, people are more skeptical now than ever.
The NHTSA, for example, is currently drafting a new set of rules companies
and individuals must follow when they want to test self-driven automobiles
on public roads. Tesla had ambitious plans to make self-driving cars the
affordable norm in as little as ten years, but experts from various industries
are now hesitant to believe this technology will be readily available
in even twice as long.
For more information about this story,
The New York Times published an online article earlier in the month, which can be viewed by
clicking here. If you need help with a car accident case, whether caused by a self-driving
car or not, Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP and our New York
City personal injury attorneys can help you. We are available 24/7 and
offer to work on contingency fees – you don’t pay us unless
we win you a verdict or settlement – so don’t hesitate to
contact us today.