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Feds Close The Tesla Autopilot Death Investigation Without Recall

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America’s auto safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has closed the investigation into the first known self-driving car crash which involved a Tesla Model S in Autopilot last year, reports Reuters citing an unnamed source. No recall was allegedly demanded.


The government didn’t find any evidence of a defect, so there was no reason to issue a safety recall. From NHTSA’s report:

A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted. Accordingly, this investigation is closed. The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that no safety-related defect exists. The agency will monitor the issue and reserves the right to take future action if warranted by the circumstances.


The investigation concerned the fatal Florida crash last May, where driver Joshua Brown’s Model S in Autopilot mode failed to detect a tractor trailer pulling across the highway and drove into it. The trailer broke through the windshield of the car in the crash.

The crash sparked a series of debates over the reliance drivers should put into autonomous driving technology and even the kind of language Tesla should use when describing its technology.

It is still unclear what Brown was doing at the time of the crash—supposedly, a Harry Potter movie was playing on a DVD player in the car when the incident happened.

A Tesla spokesperson responded, “At Tesla, the safety of our customers comes first, and we appreciate the thoroughness of NHTSA’s report and its conclusion.”


You can read the full NHTSA report here.