For the third time in two weeks, a Tesla electric vehicle has crashed with the driver telling authorities that the car’s Autopilot self-driving system was engaged at the time.
Also on Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Tesla violated securities law by failing to disclose more quickly a fatal accident in Florida in May involving a Tesla Model S that was in self-driving mode.
The SEC said it had no comment. Tesla issued a statement saying it has “not received any communication from the SEC regarding this issue.”
In the latest accident, Trooper Jade Schope of the Montana Highway Patrol declined to identify either the driver or passenger, but he did say the driver said he activated the car’s Autopilot driver assist system at the beginning of the trip. Both escaped injury.
“That’s what he stated. I have no way of verifying whether it was or wasn’t,” Schope said. “He also stated that he was driving from Seattle to West Yellowstone, Mont.”
The accident occurred after midnight Sunday morning after the driver had gotten off Interstate 90 near Whitehall, Schope said. Tesla said that it is looking into the crash and could not confirm whether Autopilot was a factor.
Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, died May 7 in Williston, Fla., when his Tesla Model S Autopilot system allegedly failed to detect a tractor-trailer turning in front of the luxury electric car. The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that it has entered the investigation into the accident, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The second crash occurred in July when a Michigan art dealer and his son-in-law were traveling in a Tesla Model X that hit a guardrail along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, crossed over several lanes before hitting a concrete median and rolled onto its roof.
Scaglione told a Pennsylvania state trooper that the car was operating in Autopilot mode. It is unclear whether driver error contributed to the crash, but the Pennsylvania State Police has cited Scaglione for careless driving, according to a report released Monday.
At Tesla Motors, CEO Elon Musk is teasing that he’s developing a new road map for the electric-vehicle automaker based in California’s Silicon Valley.
“Working on Top Secret Tesla Masterplan, Part 2,” Musk tweeted on Sunday. “Hoping to publish later this week.”
He has long noted that the “secret Tesla Motors master plan” he rolled out publicly in August 2006 has gone a long way toward playing out. In that particular plan, Musk called for Tesla to “build sports car,” “use that money to build an affordable car,” “use that money to build an even more affordable car” and “provide zero-emission electric-power-generation options.”
Author: Greg Gardner and Nathan Bomey
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