Tesla Model 3 driver killed while on Autopilot

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Words: Nile Bijoux
17 May 2019

A Tesla Model 3 driver was killed recently in a collision with a commercial truck in Florida. Crash investigators have revealed that the electric sedan was in Autopilot mode at the time.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued its initial findings on the crash, which happened on March 1. The driver died after his Model 3 hit a semi-truck that crossed his path on a highway in morning traffic. The Tesla was travelling at 109km/h in an 88km/h zone when it hit the truck, resulting in the roof of the car being taken off.

“Preliminary data from the vehicle show that the Tesla’s Autopilot system—an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that provides both longitudinal and lateral control over vehicle motion—was active at the time of the crash,” the report said. “The driver engaged the Autopilot about 10 seconds before the collision. From less than 8 seconds before the crash to the time of impact, the vehicle did not detect the driver’s hands on the steering wheel.”

“Neither the preliminary data nor the videos indicate that the driver or the ADAS executed evasive manoeuvres.”

Tesla also confirmed the semi-autonomous system was in use at the time and that the driver wasn’t touching the steering wheel. “We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy,” it said.

The company added that “Tesla drivers have logged more than one billion miles with Autopilot engaged, and our data shows that, when used properly by an attentive driver who is prepared to take control at all times, drivers supported by Autopilot are safer than those operating without assistance.”

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