Autonomous car has taken its first death toll at Williston, Florida, when a man was killed after his Tesla Model S, operating in Autopilot mode, hit an articulated lorry.
At the time, Joshua Brown, 40, of Ohio, put his Model S Tesla into Autopilot mode, which would enable autonomous cruising on the highway. The incident happened when a lorry joined the road from across the street, and the Tesla's sensors were unable to distinguish the white truck against a brightly lit sky.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said preliminary reports indicated that the crash occurred when the tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla, and the car failed to apply the brakes.
According to Tesla in a separate statement., the car attempted to drive full speed under the trailer, "with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S".
While Brown dies at the moment of the accident, the truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, of Tampa, Florida, was not injured.
The incident was a tragic loss, said Tesla in a press release. But the company also noted that this was the first fatality ever on a 130 million miles of autonomous driving. Tesla compared that to the regular driving, which incurs one fatality per 94 million in the U.S..
Autopilot, and also self-driving features are still in heavy testing phase. And it's still designed to be semi-autonomous. What this means: drivers are instructed to keep their hands on the steering wheels in case of unwanted software glitch.
Brown's death was the first-ever known fatal accident involving a vehicle being driven by itself by means of sophisticated computer software, radar, sensors and cameras. Brown owned a technology company called Nexu Innovations and was a Tesla enthusiast who frequently posted videos of his car to YouTube.
One of his videos shown below, shows Brown and his car avoiding collision on a highway. The video was retweeted by Tesla's CEO Elon Musk.