A U.S. federal agency is investigating a crash involving a 2022 Tesla Model S that may have been operating in Autopilot during a crash that killed three people.
Autopilot is Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) that performs automated functions such as steering, accelerating and automatic braking. Bloomberg first reported on the news.
The accident, which happened earlier this month, occurred in Newport Beach, California when the Tesla hit a curb and slammed into construction equipment, leaving the car totaled. This is one of more than 30 crashes being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), all of which potentially have involved Autopilot. Out of the 35 special crash investigations into Tesla since 2016 involving the electric vehicle company’s ADAS, Autopilot has been ruled out only in three.
A total of 14 crash deaths have been reported in those investigations.
This month’s collision is the 42nd included in NHTSA’s special crash investigation of ADAS systems like Autopilot, a probe that began in 2016 after a fatal accident in Florida involving another Tesla Model S that had Autopilot activated.
While Tesla’s website says that “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,” the company’s branding has been accused of misleading drivers of their vehicles’ capabilities. Simply by choosing names like Autopilot and “full self-driving software,” which is Tesla’s newer, more advanced ADAS, the company lulls drivers into a false sense of security despite the fact that its technology is nowhere near full self-driving.