Article: Self-Driving Car Tech In Crosshairs As Feds Probe Tesla Crash

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Self-Driving Car Tech In Crosshairs As Feds Probe Tesla Crash

Linda Chiem, 19 April 2021

A fatal crash in Texas involving a Tesla vehicle purportedly in semi-autonomous mode with no driver behind the wheel has sparked dual federal investigations that will invite sharper regulatory scrutiny of potential gaps in self-driving car technology, even as CEO Elon Musk flatly rejects suggestions that Autopilot was a factor.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates auto safety, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates transportation accidents, sent teams Monday to investigate the Saturday crash in the Houston suburb of Spring, which left two people dead.

Local authorities have said that no one was in the driver’s seat of the Tesla Model S at the time of the crash — one of the car’s occupants was in the front passenger seat, while the other was in the back seat — raising questions over whether the vehicle’s so-called Autopilot function was engaged and, if so, how the vehicle’s occupants found workarounds for safeguards.

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