After Tesla Motors admitted last week that it is under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) investigation for the first fatality involving a vehicle operating in self-driving mode, now the new Autopilot feature is under investigation for a second potential crash.
The NHTSA says on Twitter that it is currently investigating a second crash involving a Tesla Model X on July 1, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The Detroit Free Press reports that Albert Scaglione and his son-in-law Tim Yanke were involved in a crash in which Scaglione's Model X hit a guard rail "off the right side of the roadway and hit the concrete median after crossing over the eastbound lanes. Both the occupants of the car survived the crash.
According to Forbes, prior to the crash the driver has activated Tesla's Autopilot feature. The Autopilot system is Tesla's first implementation of the self-driving technology. The drivers are supposed to still keep their hands on the wheel, but in clear highway conditions the vehicle is able to mostly navigate by itself. The Autopilot system is using sensors to keep track of surrounding cars and highway lanes.
Tesla declared in a statement that it could not confirm whether the Autopilot feature was active during the crash. On July 1, the company has received an automated alert indicating airbag deployment. However, Tesla did not received logs on the state of the vehicle controls at the time of the collision. The possible reason for this is the fact that the severity of the crash might had caused the antenna to fail.
These accidents have put a spotlight on the push of the auto industry to implement self-driving technology. The advocated of the autonomous driving claim that most of the car accidents are caused by human error and that the driverless cars will likely accidents.
According to Computerworld, the news about the Tesla Autopilot feature involved in car accidents raises the legitimate question whether or not the self-driving technology is safe. Another equally important question is whether or not people are prepared to use semi-autonomous driving technology in a responsible way.