The government is currently investigating the first fatality associated with a driver operating a vehicle while self-driving mode was activated.
Joshua Brown of Ohio died May 7th when his Tesla Model S in the autopilot mode failed to engage the brakes and cause him to slam into a track in Florida. This accident raises a lot of questions about semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, as well as their limits and their capabilities.
There are limited numbers of self-driving cars on US streets right now, including areas like Mountain View, California and Austin, Texas. These vehicles also always have a driver, steering wheel and set of brakes in case the driver needs to take over, but there are new prototypes being developed without steering wheels as well.
Self-driving cars have the potential to minimize accidents caused by human error. More than 90% of vehicle crashes today are caused by human error, draining up to $870 billion dollars per year globally in costs.
Right now, drivers cannot purchase a self-driving car although there are SUV and vehicle models available with semi-autonomous modes. As it stands now, further research is needed in order to determine whether these autonomous vehicles are really as safe as they are marketed to be.