Tesla Model X involved in a fatal accident in Japan, Autopilot activated

The Tesla Model X Autopilot was singled out in a fatal accident in Japan, the first involving a pedestrian. A complaint has just been filed to report abnormal behavior on the part of the driving assistant which is directly responsible for the collision.

Tesla Autopilot is once again involved in a fatal accident in Japan, the first involving a pedestrian. While the Autopilot was activated, a Model X is said to have “suddenly accelerated” to collide with a motorcycle, a van, and a pedestrian on April 29, 2018. The widow and daughter of the deceased have just filed a complaint against Tesla Inc, with the federal district court of San José in California. They consider that the firm and its driving assistant are directly responsible for the death of Yoshihiro Umeda, then 44 years old.


According to Bloomberg, the complaint describes an abnormal behavior of the driving assistant, while the vehicle was traveling at low speed on an expressway near Tokyo. When the car preceding it changed lanes, the Model X “suddenly” accelerated to strike a pickup truck, a motorcycle and a pedestrian on the side of the road. The document also highlights a malfunction of the on-board system, which is supposed to control the driver’s alertness. He may have fallen asleep shortly before the accident.

Tesla could clear Autopilot by claiming human error

Tesla’s driving assistant is regularly implicated in similar cases. Recently, an Apple engineer had reported a problem with the autopilot before losing life driving his Model X. The complainants fear that Tesla will again throw all responsibility on the driver.

Tesla is likely to portray this accident as the only result of a drowsy and inattentive driver in order to distract from the obvious flaws in its automated technology.

Tonomi Umeda, victim’s wife

Beyond the sensational aspect of the business involving Tesla, the news item again highlights the difficulty of assessing the reliability of driver assistance systems. Certification bodies seem helpless in the face of AI which cannot be confronted with all possible situations.

Contact the author: christianfloyd@wheelsjoint.com


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