The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it's collecting information from the electric vehicle maker, the driver and law enforcement to determine whether the automated features were engaged in a crash that happened in Pennsylvania last Friday.
(TNS) -- PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Federal regulators have opened a second investigation into Tesla Motor's Autopilot after a Model X crash in Pennsylvania may have been connected to the self-driving feature.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Wednesday it was collecting information from the Palo Alto-based electric vehicle maker, the driver and law enforcement to determine whether the automated features were engaged in the Friday crash.
The Pennsylvania wreck came a day after NHTSA announced it was looking into a fatal May crash involving Autopilot on a Model S. It's believed to be the first fatality involving a self-driving vehicle, a technology being developed by several Silicon Valley companies, including Google and Tesla.
Tesla received an automated message from the Model X indicating it was involved in a crash, but driving logs were never transmitted to the company, a spokeswoman said. "We have no data at this point to indicate that Autopilot was engaged or not engaged," she said.
The Pennsylvania crash overturned the Model X, according to a Pennsylvania State Police report. The SUV struck a guard rail on the right side of the roadway, crossed lanes, hit the median and flipped over in the road, the state police record said.
The driver, Albert Scaglione, 77, an art gallery owner in Michigan, and his son-in-law, Timothy Yanke, 54, were injured but survived, according to police and news reports. Scaglione told a Pennsylvania state trooper that Autopilot was activated, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Tesla immediately contacts a driver after an incident to confirm they are safe and offer support, the spokeswoman said. Tesla was unable to reach the driver after the crash, including three attempts to call him. If the vehicle did flip, it could have caused the antenna to fail, the company said.
"It is not possible to learn more without access to the vehicle's onboard logs," the company said.
The Autopilot system, which warns drivers to stay alert and keep their hands on the wheel, was released in October. Tesla drivers quickly tested the limits of the technology, posting hands-free driving videos online. The company updated the software to discourage such risk-taking.
The two crashes have raised issues about the safety and sophistication of self-driving technology. In the May 7 Florida crash, the driver and car failed to notice a semitractor-trailer making a left-hand turn. The Model S struck side of the truck, killing Joshua D. Brown, a 40-year-old Navy veteran from Ohio.
Christopher Kitts, an engineering professor at Santa Clara University, said the systems can lull drivers into a false sense of security, leading them to believe they can text or otherwise become distracted behind the wheel.
Kitts said that although Autopilot is a very good driving assistance system, "the sheer name suggests it's taking over."
©2016 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.