Tesla Model S crashes into road-sweeper, kills driver

Occurred: January 2016

23 year-old Gao Yaning died after his Tesla Model S crashed into the back of a road-sweeping vehicle on a highway in Hebei province, China. 

The incident is thought to have been the first fatality involving Autopilot driver assistance system, though Tesla argued the extensive damage made it incapable of transmitting log data and impossible to determine whether Autopilot had been engaged.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV quoted road police as saying the car did not brake before crashing into the vehicle, a claim back by Tesla which said Yaning failed to take action, even though the road sweeper 'was visible for nearly 20 seconds.'

Gao's family later filed a lawsuit in Beijing against Tesla and the dealership that sold the car for exaggerating Autopilot’s capabilities, and demanded an apology. 

His family had initially sued Tesla for 1 yuan to raise public attention, but increased their compensation demands to 10,000 yuan (USD 1,499) and legal costs, and then to 5 million yuan (USD 750,000). 

Shortly after the incident, Tesla removed the term Autopilot and a Chinese term for 'self-driving' ('zi dong jia shi') from its local website and marketing materials, changing it to 'zi dong fu zhu jia shi', meaning a driver-assist system, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Operator: Gao Yaning
Developer: Tesla

Country: China

Sector: Automotive

Purpose: Automate steering, acceleration, braking

Technology: Driver assistance system
Issue: Safety; Accuracy/reliability

Transparency: Black box; Marketing

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