Days after Tesla Motors announced the upgrades for its semi-autonomous Autopilot driving system, an accident involving the company's Model S sedan has occurred in China. Based on a report by Reuters, the 23-year old driver named Gao Yaning, who was identified by the Chinese CCTV, has been killed when the sedan hit a road-cleaning vehicle on a highway in Heibei Province. The victim is the son of the car's owner. Gao's family will be suing Tesla including the dealer who sold the car.
In a statement, Tesla has stated that it addresses any incident involving its vehicles very seriously and the company had immediately reached out to their customer after learning of the crash.
Although a CCTV update has said that the autopilot system was engaged at the time of the accident, the Tesla group has pointed out that the car was physically incapable of transmitting log data to the company servers which means that there is no way of knowing whether the autopilot was engaged or not.
Basing on China's CCTV news that Gao's death happened last January, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson has reacted that Tesla's failure to report the death of another of its human guinea pigs in a timely manner is unconscionable. Tesla's first crash in Florida that killed Joshua Brown has occurred last May but the incident was only unveiled in late June.
In line with this, the American auto safety regulators have opened an investigation on Tesla's 2015 Model S vehicle. The probe will focus on the use of the car's automated driving function which puts the emerging autonomous technology under scrutiny.
This is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) first inquiry into a fatal accident involving automated systems which is being heralded by automakers and technological firms such as Google for its potential to limit or prevent deaths and injuries caused by road mishaps.
As part of a multi-approach to help car manufacturers safely adopt and market the technology, the NHTSA is in the midst of preparing the guidelines for a secure deployment of self-driving vehicles. The completion of the regulation process is expected in July and the announcement will happen by January next year.