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Government regulators are looking into fatal Tesla crash involving Autopilot

TechCrunch TechCrunch 30/06/2016 Brian Heater

Tesla announced today that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into a recent fatal crash of a Model S with the company’s Autopilot feature activated.

The carmaker has offered an account of the event in a blog post title “A Tragic Loss” that went up today, detailing the crash, an “extremely rare circumstance,” which occurred on a divided highway.

According to Tesla,

Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.

The automaker adds that the vehicle’s crash safety system would have been activated had the Model S collided with the front or rear of the trailer, rather than the side. It also took great pains to reiterate the safety procedures it has set out for the Autopilot feature, which is still in the public beta phase and disabled by default.

The company isn’t offering much more in the way of details about the incident or driver, though it did note that he was a “friend of Tesla,” who has been involved in the EV and tech communities in general.

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