A Tesla Model 3 had Autopilot engaged in the seconds before it crashed into a semi truck in March, killing the driver, federal investigators confirmed in a report on Thursday.
The car drove beneath the trailer in a crash that is similar to one that occurred in another part of Florida in 2016, also involving Autopilot. In both instances, drivers died and the top of the car was sheared off.
In the most recent crash in Delray Beach, Florida, the 50-year-old driver turned on Autopilot about 10 seconds before the sedan collided with a semi-truck, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The transportation agency’s report did not state that the Tesla driver was responsible for the crash.
The 2018 Model 3 was traveling at about 68 mph on a highway with a 55-mph speed limit, the agency said, and neither the system nor the driver made any evasive maneuvers, preliminary data and video found.
This is at least the fourth time a driver died in an Autopilot-related incident.
While the crash is still under investigation, the incident again calls into question the safety of Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving software, a feature that the Palo Alto-based company consistently defends.
“Tesla drivers have logged more than one billion miles with Autopilot engaged, and our data shows that, when used properly by an attentive driver who is prepared to take control at all times, drivers supported by Autopilot are safer than those operating without assistance,” Tesla said in a statement.
CEO Elon Musk often touts that the company’s fleet is self-driving capable. Earlier this year he promised they’ll be fully autonomous starting next year. Still, as of now, Autopilot remains a hands-on-wheel-system that requires that the driver stay attentive.
Tesla stock dropped 4.6% on Friday after the transportation agency report was released.