AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: Technology with Risks

Last year I wrote about the future in a blog dealing with autonomous vehicles and some of the challenges that come along with the emerging technology.  As automakers and ride sharing companies race to the finish line in an effort to perfect the technological advances that will set them aside from the rest so as to reap the financial rewards, serious risks remain seemingly unchecked. News headlines continue to report horrific crashes where these so called “autonomous vehicles” fail to perform as expected. (Read More Here)

On March 1, 2019, a Tesla Model 3 travelling on State Highway 411 in Florida struck a truck tractor with a semitrailer combination, resulting in the death of the 50 year old driver of the Model 3. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently released a preliminary report of the crash.  According to the preliminary report the Tesla struck the left side of the semitrailer. The roof of the Tesla Model 3 was sheared off and the driver died as a result of the crash. Preliminary data from Tesla’s Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) shows that the vehicle was on “Autopilot” mode for about 10 seconds, and from about 8 seconds before the impact the vehicle did not detect the driver’s hands on the steering wheel. Although preliminary, the NTSB report notes a speed of 68 MPH when the Tesla struck the semitrailer and there were no evasive maneuvers to avoid the impact.

All aspects of the crash remain under investigation by the NTSB to determine the cause of the crash. As vehicle operators become more reliant on advanced Autopilot Technology the risk of injury increases as the race to the finish line can result in cut corners while offering the consumer a sense of security that has not yet withstood the test of time. If you engage the “Autopilot” in your fancy new car, keep your eyes on the road and stay alert.

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