DETROIT — The U.S. government’s highway safety agency is sending a team to Detroit to investigate a crash involving a Tesla that drove beneath a semitrailer.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Monday night that a special crash investigation team will go to the city to investigate the “violent crash.” Two people were critically injured in the crash that happened last Thursday on the city’s southwest side.
The crash circumstances are similar to two others in Florida in which Teslas drove beneath tractor-trailers, causing two deaths. In both cases, the cars were being driven while using Tesla’s Autopilot partially automated driving software.
Detroit Police Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood could not say if the Tesla driver was using the company’s Autopilot or “full self-driving” software. “It’s still under investigation,” she said.
A message was left Monday night seeking comment from Tesla. The Palo Alto, California-based company has said previously that Autopilot and “full self-driving” are driver-assistance systems and that the driver must be ready to intervene at all times.
But the company has been criticized by the National Transportation Safety Board for failing to adequately monitor drivers to make sure they are paying attention. The NTSB, which investigates crashes and makes recommendations, also criticized Tesla for allowing the system to work on roads that it can’t handle.
Detroit police said in a statement that a white Tesla sedan drove through an intersection around 3:20 a.m. Thursday, struck the trailer and became wedged beneath it.
Both the male driver and female passenger were taken to a local hospital. The woman was in critical condition Thursday, while the driver’s condition was not immediately known. Police said the information was preliminary and subject to change upon further investigation.