The 34-year-old driver of Tesla Model S was killed recently in a crash while using the autopilot feature.
According to authorities, the car went off the road and ran into a fence. It finally came to rest in a pond on the other side. It's still unclear how the driver died -- whether it was a result of injuries from the crash itself or drowning. Authorities hope to gain more information from viewing the car's computer (assuming that it hasn't been damaged beyond repair by the water).
Crashes involving cars with semi-autonomous driving features have made a lot of news lately -- with many detractors pointing to the fact that cars with that feature have already been involved in several accidents.
Tesla, along with other autonomous carmakers, has responded by reminding drivers that the automatic driving feature does not relieve drivers of the responsibility of paying attention to the road. Even if the car's automatic driving feature is engaged, the human driver is expected to keep his or her eyes on the road ahead and both hands on the steering wheel.
In two of the most recent accidents involving such cars, investigations revealed similar patterns of error. In one case, the driver was on her cellphone when she ran into a truck at a high rate of speed. In the other, the driver had taken both of his hands off the steering wheel and authorities determined that -- had he been paying attention -- he would have seen the highway divider he was about to hit in time to take action.
Authorities are using these incidents to remind drivers that vehicles that drive "automatically" aren't entirely capable of handling the road on their own. When used properly, the autopilot system can significantly reduce the possibility of accidents (or the severity of those that are unavoidable). The computer can sometimes make a better decision than a human driver when there's only a split second or two to react. However, drivers are still largely responsible for their own behavior -- and negligence behind the wheel is still irresponsible.
Source: thedrive.com, "Tesla Gets Involved After Model S Drives Into Pond, Killing Driver," James Gilboy, May 23, 2018