Tesla says new Autopilot would likely have prevented fatality

Beck Diefenbach | Reuters

Tesla said on Sunday an update of its semi-autonomous driving system Autopilot would use advanced radar to improve its ability to prevent crashes and likely would have prevented a fatality of a driver using the system in May.

Autopilot 8.0 also will temporarily halt users from using the system if they fail to respond to audible warnings.

"We're making much more effective use of radar," Chief Executive Elon Musk told journalists on a call. "It will be a dramatic improvement in the safety of the system done entirely through software."

Rescue workers proceed with caution around the spot where a Tesla slammed into a tree in Baarn, Netherlands, on September 7, 2016.
Robin van Lonkhuijsen | AFP | Getty Images

Tesla's Autopilot, launched in October, has been the focus of intense scrutiny since it was revealed in July that a Tesla Model S driver using the technology was killed in May in a collision with a truck. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the incident.

Musk cautioned the improvement "doesn't mean perfect safety."

"Perfect safety is really an impossible goal," he said. "It's about improving the probability of safety. There won't ever be zero fatalities, there won't ever be zero injuries."