Tesla AutopilotEnlarge Photo
Investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are scheduled to examine the crash of a Tesla Model S that hit a fire truck parked on a California freeway.
The driver claimed the Model S was operating with Tesla's AutoPilot functionality turned on, according to a tweet sent by a firefighters union that had members at the scene of the incident.
The National Transportation Safety Board had deployed investigators to the accident on Wednesday.
According to Reuters, NHTSA stated it would “investigate the crash and assess lessons learned.”
Both the NTSB and NHTSA are involved as they perform different regulatory functions.
The NTSB can make recommendations regarding safety, but only NHTSA can compel automakers to recall vehicles if functions are found at fault or a vehicle is deemed defective.
Volvo Autopilot autonomous-car systemEnlarge Photo
The collision happened Monday morning after emergency crews responded to a crash on Interstate 405 in Culver City, reports The Mercury News.
A fire truck, with emergency lights activated, had blocked the carpool and left emergency lanes to protect the first responders on the scene.
If any of the crew members had been behind the fire truck, the incident “probably would not have been a very good outcome,” said Culver City Fire Department battalion chief Ken Powell.
This will not be the first time the Tesla AutoPilot system has come under scrutiny from federal regulators.
In 2016, a Model S running on AutoPilot collided with a semi truck that had turned across its path, which resulted in the death of the car's driver.
At the end of that investigation, regulators deemed all parties partially at fault: the truck driver for unsafely entering the roadway, the driver of the Model S for relying too heavily on the AutoPilot feature, and Tesla for allowing Autopilot users to remain inattentive for lengthy periods.
Following that incident, Tesla added additional restrictions to its hands-off driving capabilities to minimize the chance they are misused.