PHOENIX — A Valley singer and two other people were killed in a car crash earlier this month, and Tesla's "autopilot" feature may have been involved, according to federal investigators.
Andrew "Andy" Chaves, 32, and two other people were traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach, California on May 12.
Multiple calls came into the Thursday morning around 12:45 a.m. after the car hit a curb and collided with construction equipment, according to Newport Beach Police Department.
All three occupants in the car were killed in the crash. Three construction workers were also reportedly hurt in the accident and treated at a nearby hospital.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the crash in case Tesla's autopilot feature was in use, according to the Associated Press.
“Generally, they will be interested in if something unusual happened there that indicates there is a problem with the car or the systems.” Andrew Maynard, a professor at ASU who focuses on emerging technologies said.
He said that Teslas and other manufacturers can provide investigators with information that details what happened in the moments leading up to the crash.
“They should be able to parse that out, whether it was human base, machine base, or whether it was a combination of the two,” Maynard said.
This crash is far from the first to involve advanced driver assistance systems.
34 crashes are currently under investigation and 28 of those involved Teslas.
“The more sophisticated they get, the more they take away control from the driver,” Maynard said.
Tesla is getting extra attention as they are pushing the limit on what they put out on the road.
While Tesla calls its program autopilot, it is not a self-driving feature. The program is essentially an advanced version of the driver assistance programs that are becoming common in most new cars. Technology, however, is moving towards a world where people are not behind the wheel.
“To transition there, we have a lot of learning to do, where computers have a lot of learning to do, and that’s where the errors occur, that’s where mistakes happen, it's where lessons are learned,” Maynard said.
The lessons are trying to save lives. Last year, more than 40 thousand people were killed on our roads.
“Humans are not good at doing this. What we don’t know is if we can create a machine that is better than a human. “ Maynard said.
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