Tesla confirms in NHTSA filing fatal Model S crash in February involved Autopilot

Tesla has confirmed in a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that a fatal crash of a Model S in February involved their advanced driver-assist system (ADAS). The incident was published in the most recent update to the safety agency’s Standing General Order on Crash Reporting, which mandates manufacturers and operators to disclose specific crashes involving vehicles with automated driving systems, or SAE Level 2 ADAS.

The incident in question took place in the early hours of February 18, 2023 on Interstate 680 in Contra Costa County, California. According to the county’s fire department, one of their trucks, which was positioned to block a lane of traffic to safeguard first responders attending to a prior accident, was struck. Unfortunately the driver of the Tesla, a 2014 Model S, was declared deceased at the scene, while the passenger and four firefighters sustained injuries and were transported to the hospital.

Shortly after the incident the NHTSA requested additional information from Tesla regarding the incident as part of their larger probe into crashes involving parked emergency vehicles. While the agency has not yet published their findings on the incident, the latest update to the NHTSA incident report confirm a driver-assist system was engaged at the time of the incident.

According to the information submitted by Tesla, the 2014 Model S had Autopilot engaged and was travelling at 71mph (114km/h) just before impact, above the posted speed limit of 65mph (105km/h). The crash was one of 66 in the latest update, and is the 17th fatal crash reported by Tesla to the NHTSA involving their driver-assist systems. (via Bloomberg)

The data does not confirm what version of Autopilot the Model S was equipped with. Since it was a 2014 model it would have originally been equipped with Autopilot 1 (AP1) with Intel’s Mobileye hardware, which was discontinued in 2016.

The NHTSAs larger probe began in August 2021 and initially involved 11 crashes since 2018. The number of crashes included in the investigation has grown since then, with the agency upgrading the investigation into an engineering analysis in June 2022.

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