Tesla confirms another Autopilot mode crash

The Tesla Model X car is test driven at the company's headquarters. AP Photo

Another Tesla Model X crashed while in Autopilot mode. It’s the third serious accident apparently tied to the self-driving feature.

This time, it happened in Montana.

Montana State Police say the driver was headed from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park when he crashed on a two-lane highway near Cardwell early Saturday morning.

Neither the driver nor his passenger were injured in the accident, but it was serious enough that the car lost its front passenger side wheel.

The crashes are calling the safety of such automatic driving features into question, just as they’re being incorporated into more and more cars on the road.

At least two federal safety agencies are looking into the most serious Tesla autopilot crash: a fatal accident in Florida that took place in May. Joshua Brown, of Canton, Ohio, was killed in the Williston, Florida crash. Tesla says the cameras on the 40-year-old’s Model S sedan failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically brake.

The federal safety investigators are asking Tesla for details on how its Autopilot system works and why it failed to detect the other vehicle in the Florida crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also requests in a letter to Tesla data on all crashes that happened because its system did not work as expected. The agency gave Tesla until Aug. 26 to fully comply with its request. The company faces penalties of up to $105 million if it doesn’t comply.

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