Moments before the tractor-trailer crash in Virginia, the self-driving system (Autopilot) was reportedly engaged in the vehicle.

Moments before the tractor-trailer crash in Virginia, the self-driving system (Autopilot) was reportedly engaged in the vehicle.

Virginia authorities have concluded that a Tesla operating on Autopilot was speeding just before colliding with a tractor-trailer, resulting in the death of the Tesla driver, Pablo Teodoro III. This marks the third fatality involving a Tesla using Autopilot and encountering a crossing tractor-trailer since 2016, raising concerns about the safety of this partially automated system and where it should be permitted to function.

Investigations by the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office revealed Autopilot was engaged in Teodoro's Tesla Model Y, traveling at 70 mph in a 45-mph zone moments before the crash near Opal. Data showed the system warned Teodoro of an obstacle but neither the car's Automatic Emergency Braking nor Teodoro could prevent the collision in time.

The investigation indicated the system recognized an obstruction and communicated warnings to the driver. Authorities also noted that had Teodoro been within the speed limit, there would have been ample time to avoid the crash.

Notably, the truck driver initially faced reckless driving charges, but these were later dropped. Under Virginia law, violating the speed limit relinquishes the legal right-of-way.

This incident amplifies the ongoing scrutiny surrounding Tesla's Autopilot, prompting calls from safety agencies for restrictions on where it can operate and improved driver monitoring systems. NHTSA is currently investigating multiple Tesla crashes involving partially automated driving systems, emphasizing the critical need for driver readiness and vigilance while using such technology.

 

-------This article is partly excerpted from AP News.

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