Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash Investigated

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is one of two agencies seeking answers from Tesla Motors Inc regarding a fatal car accident involving the Tesla Model S and its Autopilot feature. The accident occurred when the driver hit a tractor trailer after turning the car on Autopilot. In addition to NHTSA, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether the company failed to notified investors of the crash, which would breach security and contract laws.

According to Tesla, this most recent accident is the first in more than 130 million miles driven with Autopilot turn on since the company introduced the technology in October. To further its investigation, the NHTSA is asking to see details of any and all design changes and updates to the feature since it went into use, along with any future plans for updates in the next few months. In addition, the NHTSA is also seeking records of how many times the Autopilot system ordered drivers to put their hands on the wheel, and how often that yielded a reduction in vehicle power.

The agencies leading the investigation are asking questions regarding how the feature was tested, how it filters out “false positive events and interventions,” and how it responds should the car’s cameras and sensors fail to work properly. According to the Wall Street Journal, Tesla has no plans to disable Autopilot.

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