Tesla owner still confident in self-driving car despite fatal accident

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Ronald Trugman, who just picked up his new Tesla Model S on Thursday, isn't discouraged about self-driving cars, despite Joshua Brown's fatal crash.

Some consumer groups are saying that Tesla's recently reported fatal crash could set back autonomous cars for a long time.

But Ronald Trugman, who just picked up his new Tesla Model S on Thursday, isn't discouraged about self-driving cars, despite Joshua Brown's fatal crash.

Tesla, based out of Palo Alto, is now under a federal investigation after the death of 40-year-old Joshua Brown, a former Navy Seal and entrepreneur. The crash of a Tesla Tesla's Model S happened in Florida back in May but just now it's under scrutiny. Brown's car was on autopilot when his car ran into a semi-truck on the road.

READ MORE: Self-driving car driver died after crash in Florida, a first

Trugman was at the dealership on Friday picking up some last minute pointers. He saw firsthand how the car can back into a parking space.

"They've been driving, been on the road for some time. Accidents will happen," he said.

Trugman graciously allowed ABC7 News reporter Vic Lee go with him for a drive in his car for the first time with the auto pilot on.

Trugman started out with a little trouble with the autopilot. It just wouldn't engage. In Brown's case, the auto pilot was working. Tesla says neither the autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against the brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.

Some view the accident as a setback to autonomous cars. The National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration will look at Tesla's autopilot design and performance.

Tesla acknowledges the accident on its website saying: "Neither auto pilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against the brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."

"No technology is foolproof," U.C. Berkeley Mechanical Engineering Department Professor Roberto Horowitz said. Self-driving technology is being researched and tested at the U.C. Berkeley Mechanical Engineering Department.

Horowitz said it still needs improving and at this point it can't be your chauffeur. "Most people should view this as added safety, but not a substitute for the driver," Horowitz said.

But many have been spotted leaving the driving to their Tesla like one guy who appeared to be sleeping in traffic in a video.

The non-profit group, Consumer Watchdog has concerns about self-driving cars and said: "We hope this is a wake-up call to federal investigators that we still don't know enough about the safety of self-driving cars to be rushing them to the road."
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