Elon Musk is pushing forward with his self-driving Tesla dreams.
Despite that fatal accident in May, which involved a Model S on a divided highway with Tesla's Autopilot feature engaged, the chief executive of Tesla Motors has told The Wall Street Journal there are no plans to disable Autopilot.
Instead, the automaker will double-down on efforts to educate drivers about how the system works. It is the first known fatal accident involving a vehicle being driven by itself by means of computer software, sensors, cameras, and radar. Musk said Tesla will publish a blog post to explain how Autopilot works, noting that a lot of customers still don't know what it is or how to enable it.
The fatal accident has cast doubts on the future of autonomous vehicles and was a personal blow to Tesla, which has not only pushed to expand its product lineup but also launch Autopilot as soon as possible. The company blamed the crash on that fact that neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of a tractor-trailer against a "brightly lit sky", so the system did not apply the brake.
More than 130 million miles have been driven with Tesla's Autopilot feature since the system made its debut in October. Tesla dubbed Autopilot a "beta feature" after launch, and Musk reiterated that to the WSJ on Tuesday: “It says beta specifically so people do not become complacent,” he said, adding that the disclaimers provided to drivers are “written in super plain language".
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US auto-safety regulators are investigating the crash that killed 40-year-old Joshua Brown. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June said it would investigate the first known fatality connected to the Autopilot system, and that it's homing in on automatic emergency braking.
The Autopilot system allows cars to drive themselves in certain situations, but Tesla has warned drivers they should remain alert behind the wheel.