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Update: Tesla Autopilot Accident

Investigators are analyzing the laptop of a motorists who was fatally injured in a Tesla autopilot crash and has raised new questions about driver responsibility in the face of new technology.

Details about the Laptop Discovery

Multiple sources are reporting that, on May 7, 2016, a Tesla (TSLA.O) Model S sedan was involved in a fatal crash while running on autopilot. The car was equipped with a computer stand, but the laptop was not mounted on the stand when investigators recovered the laptop. Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was the lone occupant of the vehicle and was killed when the vehicle collided with a truck near Williston, Florida, on May 7.

Tesla has said the car’s semi-automated autopilot system was on when the car crashed. It is unclear whether or not the the driver was under the influence of anything during the time of the crash. The differing witness accounts stated that they did not know whether or not the laptop was showing a movie. The goal of the Tesla Autopilot system is to allow the car to keep itself in a lane, maintain speed and operate for a limited time without a driver doing the steering.

The automaker said in a statement last week that the system “does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility.” This accident has also opened up debate on whether or not consumers were lulled into a false sense of security regarding the technology.

Important Information about the Tesla Autopilot System

According to an article in the New York Times, in order to be safe while using Tesla’s Autopilot System:

  • Misusing the autopilot system could be the difference between life and death, according to Tesla.
  • Drivers still need to be aware of road conditions and need to be able to take control of the vehicle at a moment’s notice.
  • Tesla has recently been criticized for introducing the autopilot system in “beta” mode – and has accused of using its customers as guinea pigs to test the system.


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