What does Tesla know — or not know — about last Friday's crash involving a Model X SUV that was reportedly in autopilot mode when it rolled onto its roof on the Pennsylvania Turnpike?
Federal investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are collecting information from the automaker, the Pennsylvania State Police and the vehicle's driver "to determine whether automated functions were in use at the time of the crash," the organization said.
It's the latest part of NHTSA's ongoing investigation into Tesla's autopilot systems, which was launched following the death of a Model S owner who drove into tractor trailer in Williston, Florida, while the car was autopilot mode. That accident happened on May 7, but NHTSA did not announce its investigation until last Thursday, June 30.
The next day, Albert Scaglione from Southfield, Michigan, was behind the wheel of his 2016 Tesla Model X when the vehicle hit a guard rail, went across the road to hit a concrete median, and flipped onto its roof. Scaglione and his son-in-law, who was also in the vehicle, were not hurt.
The Pennsylvania State Police say Scaglione told an officer he had activated the autopilot feature. But as evidenced by a series of statements from Tesla Wednesday, it is still unknown whether the driver had turned over control of the vehicle.
As questions about the accident continued to swirl, Tesla's statements became less certain. Initially, spokespeople from Tesla said they had "no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident." Later, the company tweaked its statement to say it had "no data at this point to indicate that Autopilot was engaged or not engaged."
The company said it's tried to call Scaglione three times and has been unable to reach him. It's not the only organization looking for Scaglione. CNBC and other media outlets have also tried and failed to reach the 77-year-old owner of an art gallery in Southfield, Michigan.
Tesla won't know for sure if the Model X was in autopilot mode until it can get into the vehicle's data recorder and look at the onboard logs.
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