Thursday 19 January 2017

Victim of autopilot car crash 'distracted by Harry Potter film'

Nick Allen

Published 02/07/2016 | 02:30

Joshua Brown stands by his new Tesla electric car near his home in Canton, Ohio. (Krista Kitchen via AP)
Joshua Brown stands by his new Tesla electric car near his home in Canton, Ohio. (Krista Kitchen via AP)

The first victim of a fatal crash in an autonomous car may have been distracted because he was watching a 'Harry Potter' movie at the time, it has been claimed.

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Joshua Brown (40), a former Navy Seal turned technology entrepreneur, was killed when his electric Tesla Model S saloon ploughed into a lorry while on autopilot mode in Florida.

A Tesla Model S involved in the fatal crash. REUTERS
A Tesla Model S involved in the fatal crash. REUTERS

His death was expected to have serious implications for the development of self-driving vehicle technology, which is being pursued by Google, Uber and other companies.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was investigating 25,000 Tesla Model S cars equipped with autopilot. Tesla, founded by the billionaire Elon Musk in California, said it was the first fatal crash in more than 130 million miles travelled by its self-driving cars, compared with a death every 94 million miles for all other US vehicles.

According to an accident report, the crash happened on a dry road in daylight 160km north-west of Orlando.

Frank Baressi (62), the truck driver, claimed Mr Brown was "playing Harry Potter on the TV screen" at the time and "went so fast through my trailer I didn't see him". He said he had not seen the film on a screen but heard it still playing when he approached the wreck.

Irish Independent

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