A new investigation has been launched into the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot feature after a crash that killed three people. Safety regulators in the US are also looking at more than 30 other driving incidents that may have involved Tesla Autopilot.
The report about the investigation was originally published in the Wall Street Journal, after an accident earlier in the month in Newport Beach, California.
According to the report, the accident involved a Tesla vehicle that reportedly hit a curb before running into construction equipment. All three of the occupants of the vehicle were killed in the incident, and three construction workers ended up in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
It hasn’t been confirmed whether Tesla’s Autopilot feature was involved in the incident. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now conducting an investigation. The agency said it’s currently looking into more than 30 incidents involving the feature.
Investment in self-driving technology
In recent years, automakers have continued to invest in self-driving technologies. However, with several high-profile crashes involving robot vehicles, consumer confidence is still low.
The results of a 2019 survey show that 71% of Americans would be afraid to be in a self-driving vehicle; but, 55% think that by 2029, most cars will have the ability to drive themselves.
Tesla, along with Genesis, Kia, and Hyundai, uses Level 2 driver assistance systems. These are designed to ease some of the burdens of driving – the driver is still required to have their hands on the steering wheel, but the program steers, accelerates, and brakes on highways.
Tesla’s AutoPilot feature is not designed to be a hands-free system. Fully self-driving cars are Level 4 or 5, and Tesla has always advised drivers that they still need to pay attention to the road at all times and to keep their hands on the wheel.
However, despite the company repeatedly stressing this point, there have been numerous Tesla accidents in the last few years, and this shows that some drivers might be using it in that way.