We learned yesterday evening that NHTSA is opening a preliminary evaluation into the performance of Autopilot during a recent fatal crash that occurred in a Model S. This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated.
(Via A Tragic Loss | Tesla Motors.)
I mentioned to someone that I thought that this would be the moment that cracks open a lot of angst about autopilots, and could be the inflection moment that either slows down adoption or demonstrates that the polity at large accepts that people will also die in self driving cars with the same equanimity that they do regarding human-driven deaths.
In general, I find humans to be stunningly accepting of driver-controlled car death, my instinct is that it will not cause a setback there. But, there are a lot of people who have been hoping and waiting for just this moment to use against Tesla because they have hated the very idea of an electric, self-driving car.
We are learning that a lot of polarizing political identity is being shaped by tribalism. Even as coal as a technology is dying and going the way of whale oil, there are people right now throwing themselves into the gap for coal because they *identify* as a certain kind of political entity. Support for coal is being against green hippies. So they rig their trucks to blow more pollution (see ‘rolling coal’) and want to dig for coal even though it’s no longer cost effective.
There are similar forces who do not want to see Tesla succeed on general principle. They will be out in force.
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