In the past year or so, several Tesla Motors Inc electric vehicles have crashed while in autopilot mode, resulting in 1 death. Earlier this year, in May 2015, a man was killed after his Tesla Model S crashed while it was in autopilot mode. The incident raised doubts over the technology, and whether or not it is safe to use on public roads.
The man who was killed in the crash has been named as Joshua Brown. Brown was 40 years old, and a resident of Ohio. On the 26/07/2016, a preliminary report was released by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The report found that the electric vehicle was speeding (the Tesla Model S was travelling at 74 MPH, in a 65 MPH zone.) Tesla’s autopilot system doesn’t influence the speed of the car. Therefore, drivers are able to speed while using the system. Some have called for a speed cap to be implemented (on autopilot systems), while others have called for a slow down in the development of autonomous driving technology.
According to an article recently published on the Wall Street Journal, the National Transportation Safety Board said that the incidents shouldn’t slow down the development of self-driving vehicles. It reads “The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration signaled U.S. regulators want self-driving technologies to progress quickly to market despite a recent fatality connected to Tesla Motors Inc.’s Autopilot technology.”
Despite the incidents, the number of crashes under autonomous driving systems (per mile) is significantly lower than the number of crashes under normal driving (by humans.) Furthermore, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc, Elon Musk, has said that drivers aren’t using the system properly. For example, they aren’t keeping their hands on the steering wheel (as they have been instructed to do so in the Tesla driver’s manual.) Therefore, it is sensible to predict that the car maker will continue to develop its software.
As the NASDAQ closed on the 28/07/2016, Tesla Motors Inc’s stock price had gained by 0.93% (on the day), trading at $230.61 per share. The firm is valued at $33.49 billion (by market capitalization.)