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US sends investigators to investigate another Tesla crash in Michigan

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) – For the second time this week, the US Road Safety Agency is sending a team to investigate the Tesla crash in Michigan.

This time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sending a special accident investigation team, as Tesla, using the company’s “Autopilot” partially automated vehicle system, collided with a State Police navigator with flashing lights along the highway.

This is a sign that President Biden’s security agency can take a stronger look at the regulation of driver assistance systems, such as Autopilot, as well as self-driving cars. In the past, it has taken a practical approach to new technologies, preferring voluntary security compliance so as not to interfere with prospective security systems.

The police car was parked in Inton Interstate 96, near the state of Lansing, while the commander was investigating the deer crash on Wednesday, WLNS-TV reported. The policeman or the driver of the 22-year-old Tesla was not injured in the accident at 01:10 in the morning, police said. The driver of the Tesla driver has been issued a refusal to drive a suspended license.

In a statement, NHTSA said it would send a team to investigate “in line with the NHTSA’s vigilant oversight” and its strong authority over the safety of all vehicles և equipment, including automated technology.

The e-mail requesting a comment from Tesla on Wednesday evening was not immediately returned. Tesla has liquidated its press office and has not returned messages for months.

Earlier this week, the NHTSA sent a special accident investigation team to Detroit for the crash involving Tesla, which was driving under a semi-trailer. Two people were injured in a crash in Tesla southwest of the city last Thursday. WJBK-TV quotes the Deputy Chief of Detroit Police as saying that all the indications indicate that the car was not in automatic pilot mode.

The circumstances of the Detroit crash were similar to the other two in Florida, in which Teslas was driving under a tractor trailer, causing two deaths. In both accidents, from 2016 to 2019, the cars were driven using Tesla’s “Autopilot” system, which can steer the car to keep it in line, stopping it from hitting oncoming cars.

NHTSA’s move to send teams to the two crashes suggests it may have a different approach to automation systems, says Sam Abuelsamid, chief analyst at Guidehouse Insights. “It seems that under the new administration, NHTSA has finally started to take it seriously,” he said.

NHTSA has previously investigated more than a dozen Tesla accidents but has not released any action. In January, before Biden took office, it threatened to hold a public hearing and sue Palo Alto, California, for recalling vehicles for the touch screen problem.

Tesla has previously said that its “Autopilot” – “fully self-driving” driver assistance systems – that the driver should be prepared to intervene at all times.

Tesla has been criticized by the National Transportation Safety Board for failing to adequately monitor drivers to make sure they pay attention. The NTSB, which investigates accidents and makes recommendations, has also criticized Tesla for allowing the system to work on roads it cannot handle.

Abuelsamid says a February letter from NTSB President Robert Sumwalt to the NHTSA calling for the new systems to be adjusted may prompt the NHTSA to take further action. “I hope we will finally see NHTSA set the standard for driver assistance systems,” he said.

Ason Eason Levine, executive director of the Center for Non-Commercial Vehicle Safety, says it is time for NHTSA to take the risks posed by all drivers by companies like Tesla. »

Under President Donald Trump, the NHTSA could not or would not take action, Levine said. “We can only hope that the era of further thinking about vehicle safety is over.”

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