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US probes another Tesla Autopilot crash

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San Francisco, March 19 (IANS) Elon Musk-run Tesla is once again under the lens in the US for a vehicle crash when the Autopilot mode was in use — a third crash involving Tesla vehicles in recent weeks.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) swung into action after the driver of a Tesla Model Y smashed into a state trooper’s cruiser near Michigan.

Michigan police said the driver was using Autopilot, Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS), at the time of the crash, The Verge reported on Thursday.

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“NHTSA is aware of the incident involving a Tesla vehicle near Lansing, Michigan. Consistent with NHTSA’s vigilant oversight and robust authority over the safety of all motor vehicles and equipment, including automated technologies, we have launched a Special Crash Investigation team to investigate the crash,” a NHTSA spokesperson said in a statement.

The other two crashes occurred in Houston and Detroit that are also under the scanner.

There have been at least two fatal crashes in which a Tesla owner has smashed into a stopped vehicle, and the electric car-maker “has yet to address it in any meaningful way”.

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The company recently rolled out a beta version of Autopilot called “Full Self Driving”, calling its the next step towards secure driving.

Last year, US federal agencies opened probe into the circumstances that led to a fatal collision involving Tesla vehicles in March.

The agencies, Washington-headquartered National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and NHTSA were investigating a collision between a Tesla Model 3 and a semi-truck in Delray Beach, Florida in which 50-year-old Jeremy Beren Banner was killed.

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The accident came almost two years after the NTSB said the design limitations of the Autopilot system played a major role in the 2016 crash that killed Tesla driver Joshua Brown in Florida.

In 2018, US safety regulators launched investigation into a crash in the city of Utah in the US that occurred when a Tesla Model S plowed into a fire department vehicle while it was on “autopilot” mode in the month of May.

NHTSA has begun investigations into 13 Tesla crashes dating back to 2016 in which the agency believes Autopilot was operating. The agency is yet to issue any regulations.

South Korea’s transport safety agency has also launched a preliminary investigation into causes of a deadly accident involving a Tesla electric vehicle.

–IANS

na/in

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