LOS ANGELES (AP) – A Tesla in a fatal crash on a Southern California freeway last week may have been operating on autopilot before the wreckage, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The May 5 accident in Fontana, a town 50 miles east of Los Angeles, is also under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The investigation is the 29th case involving a Tesla that the federal agency has probed.
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In the Fontana crash, a 35-year-old man was killed when his Tesla Model 3 struck an overturned semi-trailer on a highway around 2:30 am The driver’s name has not yet been released. Another man was seriously injured when the electric vehicle struck him while helping the semiconductor conductor out of the wreckage.
The CHP announced Thursday that its preliminary investigation had determined that Tesla’s partially automated driving system, called Autopilot, “was on” before the crash.
For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent a team in March to investigate after a Tesla on autopilot struck a Michigan State Police vehicle on Interstate 96 near Lansing. Neither the soldier nor the 22-year-old Tesla driver was injured, police said.
After fatal crashes in Florida and California, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended Tesla develop a more robust system to ensure drivers pay attention and limit the use of autopilot to highways where it can operate efficiently. . Neither Tesla nor the security agency acted.
In a February 1 letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt urged the department to pass regulations governing driver assistance systems such as autopilot, as well as vehicle testing. autonomous. NHTSA has relied primarily on voluntary vehicle guidelines, taking a practical approach so as not to hamper the development of new safety technologies.
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Sumwalt said Tesla uses people who bought the cars to test “Full Self-Driving” software on public roads with limited monitoring or reporting requirements.
“Because NHTSA has no requirements in place, manufacturers can operate and test vehicles virtually anywhere, even if the location exceeds the limits of the AV (autonomous vehicle) control system,” wrote Sumwalt.
He added, “Although Tesla includes a disclaimer that ‘currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,’ NHTSA’s hands-on approach to test oversight audiovisuals present a potential risk to motorists and other road users. “
The NHTSA, which has the power to regulate automated driving systems and to request recalls if necessary, appears to have developed a renewed interest in the systems since President Joe Biden took office.
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