Fatal Tesla crash could delay self-driving approval

By: Vin Heney on July 4, 2016

A former Navy SEAL and noted Tesla enthusiast died last month when his 2015 Tesla Model S drove under the trailer of an 18-wheeler truck in Florida. Now there are more details of how the collision happened.

While the investigation is still ongoing, Tesla has confirmed that the Autopilot system was engaged at the time of the crash. The accident was caused due to a failure to detect the truck, which may have been mistaken for the brightly lit sky. U.S. regulators are doing a thorough investigation into the incident, trying to determine whether the driver was paying attention to the road or not. New evidence reported by the National Post suggests the driver may have been paying more attention to a Harry Potter movie on a portable DVD player.

It’s an important investigation for the fledgling electric car company as U.S. regulators are very likely to make a decision regarding the safety of the Autopilot system which could result in a recall or suspension of Autopilot technology until it can pass safety standards. While Tesla does boast the most advanced  driver assistance technologies, those very advancements are likely what give some Tesla drivers the (wrong) idea that their cars are already fully autonomous.

News of the incident caused a  slight dip in Tesla’s stock as well as drew criticism from some that a responsible company wouldn’t release unproven technology to consumers.

We’ve asked ourselves what might the future look like for the auto insurance industry in a world of self-driving vehicles and we’re slowly getting there. But this incident shows just how messy a situation can get when we don’t know where to place fault.