Tesla Facing Senate Committee Hearing on Fatal Autopilot Crash

Pressure is increasing for Tesla Motors on the fatal Autopilot crash as the U.S. Senate auto safety chair asked CEO Elon Musk to brief the committee.

Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican who heads the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, wrote a letter to Musk on Thursday, asking the automaker to brief the committee. Thune has asked for a committee briefing by July 29 on the fatal crash occurring in Florida on May 7 involving its Autopilot software.

Thune wrote that he was interested in hearing about Tesla’s efforts to ensure its technology is “deployed safely.” He added that “manufacturers must educate consumers not only about their benefits but also their limitations.”

A Tesla spokeswoman said she had not seen the letter and did not have an immediate comment.

In a separate incident, Musk said in a tweet this week that a recent crash in Pennsylvania, in which the driver said he was in Autopilot mode when he crashed, was not due to the software.

“Onboard vehicle logs show Autopilot was turned off in Pennsylvania crash. Moreover, crash would not have occurred if it was on,” Musk wrote.

SEE ALSO: SEC Investigating Tesla for Not Disclosing Fatal Autopilot Crash to Investors

Senator’s Thune letter came as Consumer Reports magazine urged Tesla to disable the automatic steering function on its electric vehicles due to the crash. The magazine also asked Tesla to change the name of its Autopilot driving-assist system to fully test safety systems before public deployment.

The senate inquiry also follows the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announcement last week that it was reviewing the Pennsylvania crash. The Pennsylvania State Police said on Tuesday that the Tesla driver, Albert Scaglione of Farmington Hills, Michigan, had been charged with careless driving.

NHTSA had been investigating the May 7 crash and death in Florida of a Model S driver who was using Autopilot and collided with a tractor trailer. Tesla is also facing an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission on whether the electric carmaker failed to disclose the fatal Autopilot crash to investors.