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Tesla Autopilot Consumer Reports Test 'Concerning,' NHTSA Says; Buttigieg Closely Following Texas Incidident

Tesla Autopilot Consumer Reports Test 'Concerning,' NHTSA Says; Buttigieg Closely Following Texas Incidident

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that federal investigators are still gathering information in a probe of a fatal Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) crash in Texas last week, Reuters reported Thursday.

What Happened: Buttigieg said that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) special crash investigation team is in touch with Tesla as well as police and the incident is being followed very closely, according to the report. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also investigating the crash.

Two men died after their Tesla Model S, believed to be operating with no one in the driver’s seat, crashed into a tree and burst into flames on Saturday. It was unclear whether the car was operating in the Autopilot mode.

Meanwhile, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward Markey (D-MA) have sent a letter to NHTSA, asking the agency to thoroughly investigate the Texas crash and make recommendations to improve advanced driver-assistance features.

According to another report by Reuters, the NHTSA said a test by U.S. magazine Consumer Reports that showed engineers were able to easily trick a Tesla into driving in the Autopilot mode with no one at the wheel was “concerning.” The agency added it would take action if the issue posed a serious safety risk.

Consumer Reports said that while a Model Y automatically steered along painted lane lines with an empty driver’s seat, the system did not send out a warning or indicate in any way that the driver’s seat was empty.

See Also: Nio CEO Says Tesla Biggest Beneficiary Of 'Chinese Regulations'

Why It Matters: Tesla has been drawing increasing attention to its vehicle safety. The Texas crash is the 28th Tesla accident to be investigated by the NHTSA, with four pending, according to Reuters.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has claimed that data logs recovered so far showed the Autopilot driver assistance system in Saturday’s crash was not enabled and the car had not purchased Tesla's full self-driving (FSD) software.

Tesla's FSD is an advanced driver assistance system, while autopilot is part of all its vehicles. The Palo Alto-based company says its current Autopilot features “require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

Price Action: Tesla shares closed almost 3.3% lower on Thursday at $719.69 and further declined 0.2% in the after-hours session to $718.00.

Read Next: Tesla Is Still A 'Sleeping Giant,' Maurer Says At Benzinga Cleantech Small Cap Conference

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