The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will conclude and detail the results of its investigation into Tesla Autopilot after launching a probe and subsequent engineering analysis on why the vehicles were involved in collisions with roadside emergency vehicles.
NHTSA Administrator Ann Carlson said to Reuters that it would “get to a resolution” of the probe in the near future and that the results would be announced “relatively soon.”
Carlson encouraged drivers to remain attentive with ADAS features like Autopilot.
“It’s really important that drivers pay attention. It’s also really important that driver monitoring systems take into account that humans over-trust technology,” she said.
The History of the Investigation
In August 2021, The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) announced it would open a Preliminary Investigation of the SAE Level 2 ADAS System that Tesla has, which is more commonly known as Autopilot. The investigation would examine 2014-2021 Tesla Model S, X, 3, and Y vehicles.
In June 2022, the agency formally upgraded the preliminary evaluation to an investigation or engineering analysis. It was aimed at assessing the collisions by analyzing Autopilot capabilities on 830,000 vehicles.
The Preliminary Evaluation reviewed 191 crashes involving patterns “not limited to the first responder scenes that prompted the investigation opening.”
85 crashes were ruled out, and 43 of the remaining 106 provided detailed car log data. 37 of those showed the driver’s hands were on the steering wheel in the last seconds before a collision occurred.
The NTHSA said:
“Of those crashes involving first responder or roadside maintenance vehicles for which car log data existed, under the driver engagement strategy alerts were presented to only two of the drivers within 5 minutes of the crash. This suggests that drivers may be compliant with the driver engagement strategy as designed.”
With the upgrade to an Engineering Analysis, the NHTSA was granted the ability to perform vehicle evaluations and explore Autopilot and other Tesla systems and how they “may exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks by undermining the effectiveness of the driver’s supervision.”
In early July, the NHTSA asked for updated information regarding the vehicles, seeking the number of vehicles equipped with Tesla’s “Vision-only” approach, which relies only on cameras instead of cameras and radar.
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