US agency upgrades Tesla Autopilot safety probe, step ahead of possible recall

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Thursday it was upgrading its probe to 830,000 Tesla (TSLA.O) vehicles with its advanced Autopilot driver assistance system, a mandatory step before being able to request a recall.

The auto safety agency opened a preliminary assessment in August to assess the system’s performance in 765,000 vehicles after a dozen crashes in which Tesla vehicles struck stationary emergency vehicles – and said Thursday he had identified six additional crashes.

NHTSA is upgrading its probe to technical analysis, which it must do before requiring a recall if deemed necessary.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

The auto safety regulator is examining whether Tesla vehicles adequately ensure that drivers are attentive. The agency added evidence suggesting that drivers in most of the crashes examined had complied with Tesla’s warning strategy that seeks to get the driver’s attention, raising questions about its effectiveness.

In 2020, the National Transportation Safety Board criticized Tesla’s “ineffective monitoring of driver engagement” after a fatal Autopilot crash in 2018 and said NHTSA provided “limited oversight”.

NHTSA saidthe upgrade is “to extend existing crash analysis, evaluate additional data sets, perform vehicle assessments, and explore the extent to which Autopilot and related Tesla systems may exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks by compromising the effectiveness of driver supervision”.

Tesla, which has dissolved its press offices, did not respond to a request for comment.

NHTSA said it reported 16 crashes, including seven injuries and one death, involving Tesla vehicles on autopilot that struck stationary first responder and road maintenance vehicles.

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey hailed NHTSA’s upgrade. “Every day that Tesla fails to follow safety rules and misleads the public on its ‘autopilot’ system, our roads become more dangerous,” he wrote on Twitter.

NHTSA said its analysis indicated that forward collision warnings activated in the majority of incidents just before impact and subsequent automatic emergency braking intervened in about half of crashes.

“On average, in these accidents, the autopilot interrupted control of the vehicle less than one second before the first impact,” the agency added.

NHTSA noted that “when video of the incident was available, the first responder’s approach to the scene would have been visible to the driver an average of 8 seconds before impact.”

The agency also reviewed 106 reported autopilot crashes and said that in about half “there were indications that the driver was not responsive enough to the needs of the dynamic driving task.”

“A driver’s use or misuse of vehicle components, or unintentional operation of a vehicle does not necessarily rule out a system fault,” the agency said.

NHTSA also found that in about a quarter of the 106 crashes, the main crash factor appeared to be related to the operation of the system where Tesla says limitations may exist in places like roads other than limited-access highways. , or in visibility environments involving factors such as rain, snow or ice.

You’re here says the autopilot allows vehicles to automatically brake and turn into their lanes but does not make them capable of driving themselves.

An NHTSA spokesperson said 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 technology and all motor vehicle equipment, drivers must use it correctly and responsibly”.

Last week, NHTSA says he asked Tesla to answer questions by June 20 after receiving 758 reports of unexpected Autopilot-related brake activation in its separate survey of 416,000 newer vehicles.

Separately, NHTSA has opened 35 special investigations into crashes involving Tesla vehicles, in which Autopilot or other advanced systems were suspected of being used, involving 14 reported fatalities since 2016, including one crash that killed three people last month in California.

NHTSA asked a dozen other automakers including General Motors (GM.N) Toyota Motor Corporation (7203.T) and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) to answer questions about “driver engagement and attention strategies ‘using driver assistance systems'” during its Tesla survey but has not released its responses.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Bernadette Baum and Chizu Nomiyama

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

#agency #upgrades #Tesla #Autopilot #safety #probe #step #ahead #recall

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *