Tesla says crash car was running on autopilot

US electric carmaker Tesla has said that one of its vehicles was under the control of its Autopilot software when it crashed on a California highway a week ago, killing the driver.

The disclosure late on Friday marks the second confirmation in less than two weeks of a fatal accident involving a car that was effectively driving itself, following the death of a pedestrian who was struck by an Uber vehicle in Arizona.

The accidents are set to become the first serious test of whether regulators have been right to release today’s imperfect versions of driverless car technology on to public roads, even when there are people behind the wheel who are meant to take control in dangerous situations.

In a blog post on Friday evening, Tesla argued that more lives were being saved by releasing the technology now, with Tesla cars being involved in 3.7 times fewer fatal accidents than others.