Elon Musk Leaps to Defend Tesla Autopilot Following Fatality
Ashley Allen / 4 years ago
Elon Musk has rushed to the defence of Autopilot, the autonomous driving program onboard his company’s premier electric sedan, following the first reported fatality related to the software. Last week it was revealed that Joshua Brown was killed in a car crash after the Autopilot of his Tesla Model S failed to recognise the trailer of an 18-wheel truck, which the car subsequently collided with.
Musk was keen to stress that – despite the sad death of Brown – Autopilot is still safer than a human driver after he took exception to a Fortune article that reported on the accident. Musk sent the following defence, via e-mail, to Fortune:
“Indeed, if anyone bothered to do the math (obviously, you did not) they would realize that of the over 1M auto deaths per year worldwide, approximately half a million people would have been saved if the Tesla autopilot was universally available. Please, take 5 mins and do the bloody math before you write an article that misleads the public.”
Even before the fatal accident, Musk boasted that Tesla’s Autopilot is the safest way to drive.
“The probability of having an accident is 50 per cent lower if you have Autopilot on,” Musk said during an energy conference in Oslo, Norway back in April (via The Telegraph). “Even with our first version, it’s almost twice as good as a person.”
Musk did concede at the time, though, that Tesla would require a lot of data to demonstrate “that the safety level is definitely better, by a meaningful margin, if it’s autonomous versus non-autonomous.”
A few weeks before Musk spoke at the Oslo conference, crash victim Brown was actually saved from a road collision with a truck by the Model S’ Autopilot. Brown posted a video of the incident in early-April this year.