Electric vehicle maker Tesla is now acknowledging a tragically fatal accident involving one of its cars.
“He was a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission,” said Tesla about the customer who unexpectedly died during what seems to be a freak accident behind the wheel.
Joshua Brown loved technology. He founded a company called Nexu Innovations, which provided network services, camera systems, and more. He also worked for Tactical Electronics prior to opening his own company, and before that, Brown served in the U.S. Navy for 11 years where he also became a Navy SEAL.
According to a report from electrek, Brown died on May 7 when his 2015 Tesla Model S got “torn off” as it ended up going under the trailer of an 18-wheel semi. The tractor trailer was traveling west on US 27A, and Brown was headed east in the outside lane. When the truck made a left turn in front of the car, the car’s roof struck the underside of the trailer as it passed under it.
The car continued traveling east until in ended up on the south shoulder, striking a fence. Brown’s car would end up smashing two fences and striking a power pole. Police said Brown was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tesla noted that the Autopilot was engaged in Brown’s car at the time of the accident. When the tractor trailer drove across the highway, Tesla said that neither Brown nor the Autopilot noticed the white side of the tractor trailer as it was a sunny afternoon. They believe this is the reason Brown never engaged the brakes.
Moreover, Tesla said that the height of the tractor trailer and its positioning across the road caused the Model S to pass under, the bottom impacting the car’s windshield. Had the car impacted the front or rear of the trailer instead, Tesla is sure that the advanced crash safety system would have been deployed and “prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents.”
Tesla said that upon learning of the accident, it informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) immediately. As for the future, Tesla admits that its Autopilot feature is not perfect, but it is “getting better all the time.” Nonetheless, they insist that drivers need to stay alert even when the Autopilot is engaged.