AUTOMATED VEHICLES: NHTSA to investigate fatal crash involving automated driving system

The administration will investigate the autopilot mode of the Tesla vehicle involved in the crash

July 01, 2016

The fatal crash of a Tesla Model S car that was in autopilot mode when it collided with a truck on a Florida highway last month is prompting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to open a preliminary evaluation of the automatic driving feature.

The car in question was a a 2015 model of the Tesla Model S. The crash, as reported by Tesla itself, happened when neither the driver of the Tesla nor the car’s sensors could see a tractor-trailer pulling across the highway. 

According to a statement in The Verge, NHTSA confirmed that their Office of Defects Investigation will be examining “the design and performance of the automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash.” This evaluation is preliminary, and will involve the gathering of additional data regarding the incident, in order to determine whether or not a defect in the vehicle or autopilot system was present.