PALO ALTO (CBS/AP) — Tesla says the vehicle in a fatal crash on Highway 101 was operating on Autopilot, the latest accident to involve self-driving technology.
The automaker says the driver who was killed in the accident did not have his hands on the steering wheel for six seconds before the crash. Tesla says its Autopilot feature, which can keep speed, change lanes and self-park, requires drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel to take control of the vehicle to avoid accidents.
Earlier this month, a self-driving Volvo SUV being tested by ride-hailing service Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.
Tesla Inc., in a blog post, defended its Autopilot feature, saying that while it doesn’t prevent all accidents, it makes them less likely to occur.
“In the moments before the collision, which occurred at 9:27 a.m. on Friday, March 23rd, Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum. The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken,” the company said.
The announcement continued:
“The reason this crash was so severe is because the crash attenuator, a highway safety barrier which is designed to reduce the impact into a concrete lane divider, had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced. We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash.”
The victim has been identified as 38-year-old Walter Huang from Foster City. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
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