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Even Staunch Supporters Of Tesla's Autopilot Find Recent Events Troublesome

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Even Staunch Supporters Of Tesla's Autopilot Find Recent Events Troublesome

Autonomous and self-driving cars are in the very early stages of adoption and many users are making a grave, and in at least one case deadly, decision to let the computer do all the driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently investigating what could be the first lethal crash from a car that was engaged in self-driving mode. The investigation is focusing on a Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) Model S sedan that crashed into a truck, resulting in the death of Joshua Brown.

In a separate incident, Albert Scaglione, an art gallery owner, claimed his 2016 Model X SUV was engaged in autopilot mode when it crashed and rolled over on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Related Link: Tesla's Newest Controversy: Who Knew What And When?

The early stages of the technology may be giving users a false sense of security. According to the Wall Street Journal, users of autopilot cars it spoke with said the feature works so well it has lulled them into trusting the technology in difficult construction zones or even falling asleep at the wheel.

"I look down at my phone a little more than I used to," Jason Hughes, a computer programmer who uses the autopilot system on his Tesla about 90 percent of the time, told the Wall Street Journal. "People are overly confident in it, in my opinion. They think it can do magical things, but it can't go beyond what its sensors tell it."

Meanwhile, Tesla argues the roughly 70,000 vehicles sold with autopilot technology are statically safer than any car that doesn't have a similar technology.

The company told the Wall Street Journal in a statement that the accident rate among Tesla drivers who use the technology is far lower than those who don't.

Nevertheless, Tesla takes the safety matter very seriously and urges clients to understand that any autopilot feature is not an acceptable substitute to driver awareness and accountability. The owner's manual says that the technology "is designed for your driving comfort and convenience and is not a collision warning or avoidance system."

 

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