Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S crashed into the side of an 18-wheeler, becoming the first person to die in a self-driving car accident


On May 7th, 2016, a 40-year-old man named Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S sedan collided with a tractor-trailer that was crossing his path on US Highway 27A, near Williston, Florida.17 May 2019

Image: NTSB


In 2016, Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S crashed into the side of an 18-wheeler, becoming the first person to die in a self-driving car accident. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board has found that Brown was too reliant on Tesla’s autopilot function and is thus partially to blame for his own death.

The car reportedly gave Brown seven warnings to put his hands on the wheel. But the NTSB also criticized Tesla, saying the car’s software allowed for “prolonged disengagement from the driving task,” and highlighted “operational limitations” in the tech that left Brown little time to avoid the truck.

The board has issued seven recommendations to self-driving car companies, hoping to prevent more tragedies like this from occurring.



The New York Times

Joshua Brown, Who Died in Self-Driving Accident, Tested Limits of His Tesla

By Rachel Abrams and Annalyn Kurtz

  • July 1, 2016

CANTON, Ohio — Joshua Brown loved his all-electric Tesla Model S so much he nicknamed it Tessy.

And he celebrated the Autopilot feature that made it possible for him to cruise the highways, making YouTube videos of himself driving hands-free. In the first nine months he owned it, Mr. Brown put more than 45,000 miles on the car.

“I do drive it a LOT,” he wrote in response to one of the hundreds of viewer comments on one of his two dozen Tesla-themed videos. His postings attracted countless other Tesla enthusiasts, who tend to embrace the cars with an almost cultish devotion.

But Mr. Brown became a victim of an innovation geared precisely to people like him when his Tesla Model S electric sedan collided with a semitrailer truck on a Florida highway in May, making him the first known fatality in a self-driving car.

Mr. Brown’s most recent video was his most popular. Titled “Autopilot Saves Model S,” it shows Mr. Brown driving on an interstate highway from Cleveland to Canton. A white truck cuts in front of Mr. Brown’s vehicle, and by his account, the Tesla’s Autopilot feature swerves the car to the right, avoiding a collision.

After Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, called attention to the video on Twitter, it went viral.

“He had said, ‘For something to catch Elon Musk’s eye, I can die and go to heaven now,’” said a neighbor, Krista Kitchen, choking up. “He was absolutely thrilled – and then a couple weeks later he died.”

Inside the Self-Driving Tesla Fatal Accident

After Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was killed driving a Tesla Model S in the first fatality involving a self-driving car, questions have arisen about the safety of the car’s technology.


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