Musk defends self-driving cars after new crash

It's not yet known whether the Autopilot feature was in use when this Tesla Model S rammed into the back of a fire engine. File photo: South Jordan Police Department via AP

Fremont, California – Tesla chief Elon Musk has defended self-driving car technology after reports about the latest crash involving one of the electric carmaker’s vehicles.

Musk said on his Twitter page, he said the portrayal of self-driving was an unfair focus on the mishaps rather than benefits of autonomous vehicles with the potential to make roads safer.

He tweeted: “It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the (approximately) 40 000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage.

“What’s actually amazing about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60mph and the driver only broke an ankle.”

However whether the car’s was on Autopilot feature, or if it was engaged when a Model S collided with the rear of a stopped fire engine in South Jordan, Utah on 11 May is still unclear.

Local media reported that the police said the woman behind the wheel of the car, claimed she put the car in a self-driving mode and that her attention was on her phone.

Musk has complained that accidents involving self-driving cars gets sensational and exaggerated headlines, while the potential for the technology to save lives is not taken seriously or ignored.

The latest accident to make headlines was the fiery crash on 23 March in California that involved its Autopilot feature. The US National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the accident, that led to the death of a 38-year-old father of two, Walter Huang.

After the accident Tesla released many statements, including a blog post on 30 March that expressed sorrow for the family but they defended its technology and pointed responsibility for the crash on the driver. They said in the blog that Huang’s hands were “not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision.”

While Tesla cars have Autopilot capabilities, drivers are called on to be paying attention and ready to take control of the steering wheel.

 

Photo Credit- AFP

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