Crash Victims Speak Out Against Tesla ‘Autopilot’

Elon Musk, founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX, speaks at a news conference after the Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket launched successfully from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018.
AP Photo/John Raoux

Tesla vehicles and its “autopilot” navigation system have been involved in a number of car crashes in recent years, now one family is suing the company after a Tesla Model 3 vehicle was involved in another fatal car crash just four miles from Tesla’s main factory in California.

The New York Times reports the family of Benjamin Maldonado and his teenage son Jovani are suing Elon Musk’s electric vehicle maker Tesla after their Ford Explorer pickup was hit by a Tesla Model 3 in autopilot mode, killing the 15-year-old.

The New York Times writes:

Benjamin Maldonado and his teenage son were driving back from a soccer tournament on a California freeway in August 2019 when a truck in front of them slowed. Mr. Maldonado flicked his turn signal and moved right. Within seconds, his Ford Explorer pickup was hit by a Tesla Model 3 that was traveling about 60 miles per hour on Autopilot.

A six-second video captured by the Tesla and data it recorded show that neither Autopilot — Tesla’s much-vaunted system that can steer, brake and accelerate a car on its own — nor the driver slowed the vehicle until a fraction of a second before the crash. Fifteen-year-old Jovani, who had been in the front passenger seat and not wearing his seatbelt, was thrown from the Ford and died, according to a police report.

The accident, which took place four miles from Tesla’s main car factory, is now the subject of a lawsuit against the company. It is one of a growing number of crashes involving Autopilot that have fueled concerns about the technology’s shortcomings, and could call into question the development of similar systems used by rival carmakers. And as cars take on more tasks previously done by humans, the development of these systems could have major ramifications — not just for the drivers of those cars but for other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

At least three Tesla drivers have died since 2016 in crashes in which the vehicles’ Autopilot system was engaged and failed to detect obstacles in the road. In two different instances, the system failed to brake for tractor-trailers crossing highways, in the third it failed to recognize a concrete barrier.

In June, the federal traffic safety agency released a list showing that at least 10 people have been killed in eight accidents involving Autopilot since 2016, not including the crash that killed Jovani Maldonado.

Read more at the New York Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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