Regulators and consumers are ramping up scrutiny of Tesla Inc.'s driver-assist technology following a fatal crash in California earlier this month, piling on to existing investigations and lawsuits for the automaker.
It's not clear if the collision with a Contra Costa County fire truck on Feb. 18 involved the company's advanced driver assistance systems, but the case echoes others in which Tesla drivers using driver-assist technology crashed into emergency vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating that issue, said Philip Koopman, a Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor and self-driving car researcher.
"They verified that quite a few of these crashes involve Autopilot being on, and we know that driver complacency is a problem with the technology," he said. "Here's yet another crash that has all the earmarks — the fingerprints — of the previous crashes that are subject to investigation."
The NHTSA investigation is one of many probes — both legal and regulatory — seeking more information about the safety of Tesla's automated features.
Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.