Washington: Joshua Brown, 40, a former Navy SEAL is the first person to die at the wheel of a self-driving car.
Brown died after his computer-guided Tesla Model S hit a tractor trailer on a freeway in Williston, Florida, in May.
Witnesses have claimed the Tesla was on autopilot while Brown was watching a Harry Potter movie when his car collided with the tractor. Tesla has, however, claimed it is not possible to play films on the vehicle’s touchscreen.
On Friday Tesla confirmed a driver was killed while using its “autopilot” self-driving mechanism on its Model S electric car, leading to a US federal safety investigation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that it has opened a “preliminary evaluation” into the performance of Autopilot after the electric car company notified the agency of a fatal crash in Florida in May.
In a statement, Tesla said the fatality was “a tragic loss” and was the first such incident with its Autopilot system activated.
“This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated,” the company said.
“Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles. Worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles,” it said.
“It is important to emphasise that the NHTSA action is simply a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations.”
NHTSA communications director Bryan Thomas said the agency deployed a special team to the scene of the crash and opened a “defects investigation” focused on the automated driving system....