Fatal Crash Causes Tesla to Look at Camera and Radar Features

Fatal Crash Causes Tesla to Look at Camera and Radar Features

Fatal Crash Causes Tesla to Look at Camera and Radar Features

Fatal Crash Causes Tesla to Look at Camera and Radar Features

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer.  On May 7, 2016, a Canton, Ohio, native died while driving an autopilot Tesla Model S vehicle that had camera and radar capabilities.  Senate Commerce Committee members were reportedly told by two Tesla engineers that there were likely two possible causes for the failure that led to this fatal collision.

What Happened?

On May 7, 2016, Joshua Brown’s Tesla collided with a tractor-trailer in Florida near Gainesville.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has confirmed that the Tesla’s autopilot system was active at the time of the crash, which raises obvious questions as to its safety and its ability to be pushed to the masses.

What Caused the Problem That Led to the Crash?

The two main theories that Tesla seems to believe may have led to crash are (1) that the vehicle’s system simply did not see the tractor-trailer or (2) that the radar picked up the trailer while the camera did not, causing the vehicle’s autopilot system to believe the radar was returning a false positive.  Joshua Brown, 40, was killed in this collision when his Tesla hit the trailer at a right angle and went underneath.  The Tesla was essentially cut in half horizontally, losing its roof as it went underneath the big-rig.

Tesla Points Out False Positives

A problem that Tesla itself points out is that the autopilot system can be subject to many false positive instances that appear in many different real-life scenarios.  For example, if a Tesla on autopilot approaches a bridge, the vehicle’s system needs to be able to allow the vehicle to continue without forcing it to a brake and stop as the car can safely pass underneath the bridge.  This may have been similar to what happened in this collision in Florida- the vehicle’s system may have picked up the tractor-trailer but was unable to determine if it was above the road or directly in the path the vehicle.  The vehicle’s system simply ran into a real-world situation that it had not been prepared for and the result was fatal for the driver.


There is little doubt that self-driving vehicles are the way of the future.  Once a sufficient amount of time, research, and testing have been applied to the process, self-driving vehicles will likely lead to less traffic accidents, fewer deaths and injuries, lower insurance premiums (due to fewer accidents), and enhanced consumer experiences.  This technology is still new and, as you can see, not quite ready to make the jump to the masses.

Sacramento Autonomous Vehicle and Personal Injury Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. If you or a family member has been seriously hurt or lost their life in an accident involving an autonomous car, please give me a call at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice. You may also call me toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

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