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Tesla driver dead in Autopilot crash credited the system for saving him in near miss caught on video

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We learned today that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is launching a preliminary evaluation around a tragic fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S on Autopilot and a tractor-trailer last month.

We now learn that the victim was Joshua Brown, an active Tesla community member, who just a month prior to his accident, credited Tesla’s Autopilot for saving him in near miss caught on video.

In April, we reported on a dashcam video posted by Brown of his Model S narrowly avoiding a side collision when a boom-lift truck merged in the right lane without looking.

At the time, Brown described the incident:

“Tesla Model S autopilot saved the car autonomously from a side collision from a boom lift truck. I was driving down the interstate and you can see the boom lift truck in question on the left side of the screen on a joining interstate road. Once the roads merged, the truck tried to get to the exit ramp on the right and never saw my Tesla. I actually wasn’t watching that direction and Tessy (the name of my car) was on duty with autopilot engaged. I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the “immediately take over” warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision.

You can see where I took over when there’s a little bit of blip in the steering. Tessy had already moved to the right to avoid the collision. I was not able to slow down even more due to the heavy traffic (cars were behind me). Once I got behind him I slowly added more room between us until he exited. I was not tail gating after the incident.”

Here’s the video:

We now learn of Brown being involved this time in not a near miss, but a very severe accident. Here’s the description from the police beat:

In a separate crash on May 7 at 3:40 p.m. on U.S. 27 near the BP Station west of Williston, a 45-year-old Ohio man was killed when he drove under the trailer of an 18-wheel semi.
The top of Joshua Brown’s 2015 Tesla Model S vehicle was torn off by the force of the collision. The truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, Tampa was not injured in the crash.

The FHP said the tractor-trailer was traveling west on US 27A in the left turn lane toward 140th Court. Brown’s car was headed east in the outside lane of U.S. 27A.

When the truck made a left turn onto NE 140th Court in front of the car, the car’s roof struck the underside of the trailer as it passed under the trailer. The car continued to travel east on U.S. 27A until it left the roadway on the south shoulder and struck a fence. The car smashed through two fences and struck a power pole. The car rotated counter-clockwise while sliding to its final resting place about 100 feet south of the highway. Brown died at the scene.Charges are pending.”

Tesla issued a full statement following NHTSA’s investigation into the crash.

Brown hailed from Stow, Ohio where he owned NexuInnovations and was a 12 year veteran of the US Navy. From his bio:

I attended the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque for three years studying physics and computer science.  Following my junior year, I enlisted in the US Navy serving 11.5 wonderful years on active duty as a Master Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD).  While deployed numerous times overseas, in both warfighting and non-combatant roles with SOF (Special Operations Forces) units, it was my pleasure to work with the most intelligent, innovative, and independent patriots I have ever met.  My duty stations included: Information Technology A School, BUD/S, NDSTCNAVSCOLEOD, EODMU3, KTOD ACTD, and NSWDG.  These opportunities allowed development of my operational experience as well as understanding and associations within the research and development (R&D) community.


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