Thirty Tesla Crashes Under Investigation in US

In the latest sensational Tesla crash, a Model S sedan flew off a road near Houston on April 17, hit a tree, exploded, and burned for hours. Rescue crews found two bodies inside. One was in the passenger seat and one was in the back seat. “There was no one in the driver’s seat,” a police official told news outlets. 

With nobody at the wheel, the owner may have been showing off by letting Autopilot maneuver the car. Musk said two days after the crash that data recovered “so far” shows Autopilot was not engaged. But police say there’s no way a driver could have moved from the front seat to the back after the crash occurred. Barring a suicide mission, Autopilot seems to be the only logical explanation.

A Chinese family has sued US carmaker Tesla for a fatal crash that may have been caused by the company’s autopilot feature

US safety regulators have opened 30 investigations into Tesla crashes involving 10 deaths since 2016 where an advanced driver assistance system was suspected to have been in use.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a list offering details about crashes under review by its special crash investigations programs.

The agency, which has previously confirmed some specific Tesla crash investigations, had not previously released to Reuters a full accounting of all Tesla crashes investigated where Tesla’s Autopilot system was suspected of being involved.

Of the 30 Tesla crashes, NHTSA has ruled out Tesla’s Autopilot in three and published reports on two of the crashes.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

NHTSA has said previously it had opened 28 special crash investigations into Tesla crashes, with 24 pending. The spreadsheet shows a February 2019 crash where Autopilot use was undetermined.

A 2016 crash in Williston, Fla., killed the driver, who drove his Tesla Model S under a tractor-trailer: “The Tesla’s automated vehicle control system was not designed to, and did not, identify the truck crossing the car’s path or recognize the impending crash.”

A 2018 crash in Mountain View, Calif., in which a Model X hit a highway divider, killing the driver: “The probable cause of the crash was the Tesla Autopilot system steering the sport utility vehicle into a highway gore area due to system limitations, and the driver’s lack of response due to distraction likely from a cell phone game application and overreliance on the Autopilot partial driving automation system.”

A non-fatal 2018 crash in Culver City, Calif., in which a Model S rear-ended a firetruck parked in an HOV lane to tend to a collision on the other side of the freeway: “The probable cause was the Tesla driver’s lack of response to the stationary fire truck in his travel lane, due to inattention on the vehicle’s advanced driver assistance system.”

A 2019 crash in Delray Beach, Fla., in which a Model 3 drove under a tractor-trailer, killing the driver. “The Autopilot system did not send a visual or audible warning to the driver to put his hands back on the steering wheel. The collision avoidance systems did not warn or initiate [auto-emergency braking] due to the system’s design limitations. The environment was outside the [operational design domain] of the Autopilot system, and Tesla does not limit Autopilot operation to the conditions for which it is designed.”

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