US closes probe into fatal Tesla autopilot crash, no defect found


US closes probe into fatal Tesla autopilot crash, no defect found

Washington (AFP) – The US Transportation Department on Thursday closed its investigation into a fatal crash involving a Tesla car on autopilot, saying no defects were found in the system, including the emergency braking feature.

No “safety-related defect” was identified in the crash in May of last year on a Florida highway, Bryan Thomas, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told reporters. 

“The investigation is closed.”

The NHTSA also looked at dozens of other non-fatal crashes that happened when the autopilot feature was in use in Teslas, including the Model S involved in the fatal crash, Thomas told reporters in a conference call.

While no defect is apparent and no further investigation is needed for now, “the closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that no safety-related defect exists,” he said. 

“The agency will monitor the issue and reserves the right to take future action if warranted by the circumstances.”

Tesla founder Elon Must tweeted shortly after the NHTSA finding was announced, calling the final report “very positive.”

Thomas said the investigation indicated the fatal Florida crash, in which a Tesla was hit by a truck crossing a highway, involved “a number of human factor issues,” including use of the automatic system beyond its design.

Questions have been raised over Tesla’s autopilot system after two fatal crashes, one in northern China in January and another in the US state of Florida in May

Copyright AFP/File SAUL LOEB