The global movement towards the mass deployment of autonomous and electric vehicles was once again criticized following the fatal collision involving an electric Tesla Model X vehicle in the US.
US federal investigators have now launched a full inquiry into the accident in an effort to determine what caused the death of the 38-year old motorist who died when the Tesla he was driving collided with a highway barrier on the outskirts of Mountain View, California.
It's been a dreadful few weeks for the advocates of self-driving technology in the US. On March 18th, an autonomous Uber vehicle was involved in the death of a 49 year-old pedestrian in Arizona. Uber's self-driving program which was in operation in four US cities has now been suspended pending an investigation into the accident.
In the accident involving the 2017 Tesla Model X, it was disclosed that the electric car caught fire following the impact and was then subsequently hit by two cars that then approached the scene. A Tesla was already involved in a fatal collision back in 2016 - and now this latest incident raises fresh concern over the safety of its vehicles, although a report into that fatal crash two years said no 'safety-related defect' was responsible for the accident despite the vehicle being on autopilot.
The National Transportation Safety Board has officially announced that two investigators had commenced a field probe. The agency said it was too early to determine whether the car was in automated mode at the time of collision. They released the following statement via Twitter, "It remains unclear if automated control system was active at the time of the crash. Issues examined include: post-crash fire, steps to make vehicle safe for removal from scene."
Tesla said it was fully cooperating with investigators in an effort to determine what caused the fatal collision. A spokesman for the company which was founded by Elon Musk said, "We have been deeply saddened by this accident and we have offered our full cooperation to the authorities as we work to establish the facts of the accident."