2 fed agencies send teams to probe Tesla freeway crash


DETROIT (AP) — Two federal agencies have dispatched teams to investigate the California crash of a Tesla Model S electric car that may have been operating under its semiautonomous "Autopilot" system.

It's the second time the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have investigated the performance of Autopilot, which keeps a vehicle centered in its lane at a set distance from cars in front of it and also can change lanes and brake automatically.

The safety board sent two investigators to Culver City on Tuesday, according to spokesman Peter Knudson, while NHTSA today confirmed it is also dispatching a special team "to investigate the crash and assess lessons learned."

Neither agency would comment further, but it's likely they both will seek information about whether Autopilot was on and if its sensors somehow failed to see a stopped firetruck Monday on Interstate 405 in Culver City near Los Angeles.

The NTSB said on Twitter that investigators will focus on driver and vehicle factors.

The Tesla driver told the California Highway Patrol he had activated Autopilot before the crash, but the patrol said in a news release it was unable to verify the driver's statement at this time. The crash remains under investigation, the highway patrol said.

The NTSB in September determined that design limitations of the Tesla Model S Autopilot played a major role in a May 2016 fatal crash in Florida involving a vehicle operating under Autopilot. But it blamed the crash on an inattentive Tesla driver's over reliance on technology and a truck driver who made a left turn in front of the car.

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