It's a fear many have that as cars become more advanced and autopilot features become more common, fatal mistakes are bound to happen. In a blog post released by Tesla on Thursday, the company reported that a driver died after his Model S crashed while on autopilot, confirming those hesitations.
While some might be quick to blame the autopilot system for the crash, it is still not clear to what extent the car or driver are at fault. According to Tesla,
What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.
Tesla alleges this is the first known death involving the autopilot feature and that drivers have tested it out over the course of a collective 130 million miles. While Tesla also noted that "one person dies for every 94 million vehicle miles traveled in the United States," that does not provide much of a comfort for those who are skeptical of the new technology.
As with all new advancements, it seems we will just have to wait and see, hoping things pan out for the better -- and safer.