After discovering new cases of collisions between Tesla’s advanced Autopilot driver assistance system and parked first aid vehicles, federal safety officials in the United States have “enhanced” their investigation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said in a notice released Thursday that it was extending its preliminary assessment of Tesla’s Autopilot systems to technical analysis, TechCrunch reports. This means NHTSA will expand its existing crash analyses, evaluate additional data sets and conduct vehicle assessments, as well as determine whether Autopilot and related Tesla systems may exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks. by undermining the effectiveness of driver supervision, according to the agency, the report mentions.
Escalation is a critical and necessary step before NHTSA can issue a recall. An estimated 830,000 Tesla vehicles are involved in the investigation, according to agency documents. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement from NHTSA, the agency recalled that “no motor vehicle commercially available today is capable of driving itself”.
“Every available vehicle requires the human driver to be in control at all times, and all state laws hold the human driver responsible for the operation of their vehicle,” an agency spokesperson reportedly told TechCrunch.
“Some advanced driver assistance features can promote safety by helping drivers avoid crashes and lessen the severity of crashes that do occur, but as with all motor vehicle technology and equipment, drivers must use them correctly and responsibly. NHTSA is equipped with strong enforcement tools to protect the public, investigate potential safety issues, and act when we find evidence of noncompliance or unreasonable safety risk,” she added.
NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system in August 2021, citing 11 incidents in which vehicles crashed into parked first responders while the system was activated. In those crashes, the Tesla vehicles had either activated Autopilot or a feature called traffic-dependent cruise control.
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