The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a formal safety investigation on Tesla’s driver assistance system Autopilot. The investigation takes place after multiple Tesla car accidents are known to be using autopilot while the incident took place. It is also possible that this investigation can damper Tesla’s upcoming event, AI day on August 19.
This investigation would cover the safety aspects of all the Tesla cars owned by customers in the US which are 765,000 vehicles. From 2018-2021, 11 Tesla car crashes are known to be using driver assistance software. Though the result is not known yet, it could as for a recall, leading to restrictions on when, where, and how the self-driving system could be used. Which in turn could impact other competitor autopilot restrictions too.
Interestingly most crashes are known to take place during the night. Where the incidents involved flares, lights, and road cones. NHTSA states, its investigation “will assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation.”
Also, the government has been investigating some cases for years now. This time they plan to include engineering analysis into the accidents. Such two-step investigations would need a year or more for final confirmation on what happened at the time of the accident. NTSB is known to criticize NHTSA for not ensuring Tesla Autopilot to have safeguards for accidents.
Three days before the AI event, Tesla shares fell by 3% because of this announcement. Which states, “ODI has opened a Preliminary Evaluation of the SAE Level 2 ADAS system (Autopilot) in the Model Year 2014-2021 Models Y, X, S, and 3. The investigation will assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation. The investigation will additionally assess the OEDR by vehicles when engaged in Autopilot mode, and ODD in which the Autopilot mode is functional. The investigation will also include examination of the contributing circumstances for the confirmed crashes listed below and other similar crashes.”
In addition to this, NHTSA reminds people that no autopilot can be used without the driver’s attention. Such advancement did not take place yet and drivers are responsible for their actions too. The incidents about investigations have been going on for years now, it is possible that the announcement didn’t affect the event. Elon Musk stated once that the problems with Tesla’s FSD are known ones, there are no unknown problems.