Tesla driver is first to be killed in crash while using car’s ‘Autopilot’
A driver so enamored of his Tesla Model S sedan that he nicknamed the car ‘Tessy’ and praised the safety benefits of its sophisticated ‘Autopilot’ system has become the first US fatality in a wreck involving a car in selfdriving mode.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the driver’s death and said it is investigating the design and performance of the Autopilot system.
Joshua D Brown of Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company, was killed on May 7 in Florida, when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to statements by the government and the automaker.
Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”
Tesla Motors Inc. said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen. There was no reference to the movie in initial police reports.