Self-Driving Tesla Was Involved in Fatal Crash, U.S. Says
The driver of a Tesla Model S electric car was killed in a crash that occurred while the vehicle was driving itself in “autopilot” mode, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration, which has opened a formal investigation.
美国国家公路交通安全局(National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration)披露，一辆特斯拉Model S电动车在使用“自动驾驶”模式行驶途中发生车祸，导致驾驶者死亡，对此案的正式调查已经开启。
The accident, on May 7, is thought to be the first death resulting from a crash involving a self-driving car.
Automakers and Silicon Valley companies like Tesla and Google are pushing to perfect automated vehicles and speed their introduction, but the big question has been whether the technology is reliable in a life-or-death situation.
In a statement, the safety agency said it learned of the fatality from Tesla, and has sent an investigative team to examine the vehicle and the crash site in Williston, Fla., about 100 miles northwest of Orlando. The team is looking at the car’s automated driving system and whether it played a role in the crash.
The safety agency did not identify the Tesla driver who was killed when a tractor-trailer turned in front of the car. But the Florida Highway Patrol identified him as Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio.
Tesla, in a news release that did not name the driver, said he was a man ‘‘who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.’’
Mr. Brown apparently posted videos of himself riding in autopilot mode. “The car’s doing it all itself,’’ he said in one, smiling as he took his hands from the steering wheel.
In another he praised the system for saving his car from an accident.
The traffic safety agency said it was working with the Florida Highway Patrol in the inquiry into Mr. Brown’s fatal accident. The agency cautioned that the opening of an investigation did not mean it believed there was a defect in the vehicle being examined.
The traffic safety agency is nearing the release of a new set of guidelines and regulations regarding the testing of self-driving vehicles on public roads. They were expected to be released in July.
Tesla said in its news release that it had informed the traffic safety agency about the accident “immediately after it occurred.” But the company reported it publicly only on Thursday, after learning that the agency had begun to investigate.
Earlier this month, the agency’s leader, Mark Rosekind, said at an automotive technology conference in Novi, Mich., that the new rules would provide “guidance for how to get all of these autonomous new safety technologies on the road safely.”
Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, has praised the company’s self-driving feature, introduced in the Model S last fall, as “probably better than a person right now.”
特斯拉去年秋天推出Model S时，其首席执行官埃隆·马斯克(Elon Musk)称赞他们的自动驾车功能“现在很可能优于人类”。
But in its statement on Thursday, the company cautioned that it was still only a test feature and noted that its use ‘‘requires explicit acknowledgment that the system is new technology.’’
It noted that when a driver activated the system, an acknowledgment box pops up, explaining that the autopilot mode “is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times.”