Tesla self-driving car fails to detect truck in fatal crash

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- There are new details out on Tesla's much-talked-about self-driving technology, which is now under investigation, after a man died in a car crash in Florida.

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

Both Brown and the car's driverless technology failed to detect the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake wasn't activated. Brown was reportedly watching a harry potter video at the time of the crash.

His family issued a statement through their lawyers saying in part: "In honor of Josh's life and passion for technological advancement, the Brown family is committed to cooperating in these efforts and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation."

The family said they understood the public's fascination with this new technology, asked for privacy while they grieve.

Roberto Horowitz, an engineering professor at U.C. Berkley, says no tech is fool proof.

"I think most people should view this as added safety, not a substitute for the driver," said Horowitz.

Meanwhile, Tesla also issued its own statement on their website, reminding drivers to keep control and responsibility over their cars at all times and also extended condolences to the family saying we are beyond saddened by their loss.

The victim in this case did have a record of speeding, with eight tickets in six years.

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."
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.