NHTSA Probes Another Tesla Motors Crash Over Possible Autopilot Use

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Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) was not even out of the first problem, and here comes the second. On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it is probing a July 1 crash in Pennsylvania of a Model X to find out if the automated functions were in use at the time of the crash. Currently, the NHTSA is also investigating a May 7 fatality of a Model S driver using Autopilot.

Not possible to learn more without onboard logs: Tesla Motors

Tesla said in a statement that based on the information “we have now, we have no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident.” Autopilot function is a semi-autonomous technology that helps drivers steer and stay in lanes.

Tesla said it received an automated alert from the car suggesting the use of airbags, but it doesn’t have logs containing information on the state of the vehicle controls. This would have indicated whether Autopilot was on or off. The EV firm said it made efforts to reach the car’s owner but so far has been unsuccessful.

In the Pennsylvania crash, the Model X struck a turnpike guard rail and then veered across many traffic lanes and into the median where it landed on its roof in the middle of the roadway, said state police. According to the police report, the driver and a passenger were injured.

In a statement, a Tesla spokesperson said that at this point, they have no data to indicate whether or not the Autopilot was engaged.

“This is consistent with the nature of the damage reported in the press, which can cause the antenna to fail,” the spokesperson said.

Tesla Motors – NHTSA gathering information

The NHTSA said it is gathering information from Tesla, state police and the driver, Albert Scaglione of Farmington Hills, Michigan said. The agency’s disclosure about the May crash last week has focused on the nascent tech that, according to the electric car maker, was still in “beta” or test mode. The May crash in Florida killed a Model S driver using Autopilot.

According to the electric car maker, drivers must have their hands on the wheel even as the car takes over more control. However, some experts believe such partially autonomous systems lull drivers into a false sense of security.

On Wednesday, Tesla shares closed up 0.21% at $214.44. Year to date, the stock is down almost 10%, while in the last year, it is down more than 23%. The stock has a 52-week high of $286.65 and a 52-week low of $141.05.

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