A Tesla electric car allegedly driven by a computer has crashed into a bus carrying 29 tourists on a busy motorway.
The incident, in northern Germany, has implications for the “driverless” car industry, which is seeking to prove it is safe and capable of taking over functions such as taxi driving.
The 50-year-old driver of the car said the autopilot was engaged at the time but he also had his hands on the wheel. A Tesla spokesperson was quoted as saying “we have spoken to our customer, who confirmed that Autopilot was functioning properly and that his use of Autopilot was unrelated to the accident. We’re glad that he’s safe.”
The incident follows fatal crashes in China in January and in the US state of Florida in May.
In the Florida incident, a driver was hurtling along in his Tesla car when the vehicle, operating in driverless “autopilot” mode, collided with a tractor trailer. The car kept going, with its sole occupant reportedly watching a Harry Potter video as his vehicle left the road, struck a fence, sped across a field, ploughed through another fence and finally smashed into a lamppost about 30 metres away from the road, killing the driver.
Tesla said the Florida accident was suffered under “extremely rare circumstances”.
Cars with human drivers are also involved in fatal accidents.
Written by Peter Needham