The accident happened when a tractor trailer made a left turn at an intersection with no traffic light in front of the Tesla. The crash occurred on May 7 in Williston, Fla., and the driver died of injuries he sustained in the wreck.
Tesla said in a blog post that the Model S was traveling on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when the big rig crossed its path.
“Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied,” the post reads. “The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S. Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents.”
The automaker said it is saddened by the death of the driver, who was a “friend to Tesla and the broader EV community.” Tesla went on to say that the death is the first in 130 million miles of Autopilot operation, and that the risk of injury will decrease as Autopilot gets better over time. Whenever Autopilot is engaged, a warning is displayed reminding the user that the technology is in public beta and they need to maintain control at all times.
Per its procedure, Tesla notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when it learned of the accident. The AP says the government is investigating Tesla’s Autopilot system.