US federal safety regulators have “upgraded” their investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot advanced driver assistance system after discovering new incidents of electric vehicles colliding with parked emergency vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement Thursday that it was expanding its preliminary evaluation of Tesla Autopilot systems to include technical analysis. This means that the NHTSA will expand its existing crash analysis, evaluate additional data sets and conduct vehicle evaluations, as well as evaluate whether Autopilot and associated Tesla systems could exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks by undermining the effectiveness of driver supervision, it said. agency. †
The escalation is a critical and required step before the NHTSA can issue a recall. According to agency documents, an estimated 830,000 Tesla vehicles are involved in the investigation.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
In a statement from the NHTSA, the agency recalled that “no commercially available motor vehicle today is capable of self-driving.”
“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 vehicles,” an agency spokesperson said in a statement to Vidak For Congress. “Certain advanced driver assistance features can promote safety by helping drivers avoid accidents and reduce the severity of accidents, but as with all technologies and equipment on motor vehicles, drivers must use them correctly and responsibly. NHTSA has robust enforcement tools in place to protect the public, investigate potential security issues and act when we find evidence of non-compliance or an unreasonable risk to security.”
NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation into Tesla Autopilot in August 2021, citing 11 incidents in which vehicles collided with parked first aid vehicles while the system was on. In those crashes, Tesla vehicles had Autopilot or a feature called Traffic Aware Cruise Control enabled.
Most of the incidents took place after dark and took place despite “scene control measures,” such as vehicle emergency lighting, road cones and an illuminated arrow sign directing drivers to change lanes, the documents listed at the time.