The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating Tesla’s Autopilot feature after a Model S accident left three passengers dead, according to The Wallstreet Journal.
In May, one of Tesla’s Model S electric vehicles struck a curb on Newport Beach’s Mariners Mile strip. The vehicle reported ran into construction equipment, resulting in a fatal accident for the three occupants in the car. Additionally, three construction workers were taken to the hospital after suffering non-life-threatening injuries.
This incident has sparked a new investigation as the NFTSA looks into 30 incidents involving Tesla’s Autopilot feature. The police involved in the incident have declined to confirm whether the accident was due to Tesla’s Autopilot.
Last year, the NHTSA opened another investigation into Autopilot. This followed 11 other crashes with parked first responder vehicles since 2018. This string resulted in 17 total injuries and one death.
Tesla is one of many automotive companies to have a Level 2 driver assistance system available. Level 2 autonomous vehicles still require driver attention and hands on the wheel while the vehicle is in motion. Autopilot controls basic functions like steering, speeding and braking. Tesla says that it urges drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
Earlier this year, the first Tesla driver in the U.S. was charged following an accident that involved Autopilot. The owner of the Model S ran a red light, hit another car, and killed the two passengers of the vehicle.
The use of “partially automated” vehicles has led to confusion over their autonomous function. Another driver was found to be sitting in the back seat while their Tesla was in motion.
It’s still unknown what will come of the current NHTSA investigation.
Image credit: Tesla