by Hansshow Admin . Aug 26, 2023
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is nearing the conclusion of its extensive investigation into Tesla's Autopilot system. This probe was initiated in light of concerns about Tesla vehicles colliding with emergency vehicles on the roadside, and it has since expanded to encompass a broader range of safety concerns.
Origins of the Investigation
The NHTSA's interest in Tesla's Autopilot system was piqued by a series of incidents, including a fatal crash in California involving a 2018 Tesla Model 3 sedan. This incident was not isolated, as another investigation had been opened by NHTSA in March concerning a fatal crash of a 2014 Tesla Model S in California.
Ann Carlson, the NHTSA Administrator, informed Reuters that the public would soon be apprised of the investigation's outcomes. She underscored the importance of drivers remaining vigilant when using Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) like Autopilot.
Scope and Findings
In August 2021, the NHTSA announced its intention to begin a Preliminary Investigation into Tesla's Autopilot system, covering Tesla Model S, X, 3, and Y vehicles from 2014 to 2021. By June 2022, this preliminary evaluation transitioned to a more in-depth engineering analysis, focusing on the Autopilot's functionalities across 830,000 vehicles.
During this phase, 191 crashes were analyzed, revealing patterns that went beyond the initial emergency vehicle incidents. Of these, 85 were dismissed, and from the remaining 106, comprehensive vehicle data was available for 43 cases. In 37 of these, data showed drivers had their hands on the wheel shortly before the crash.
Despite Tesla CEO Elon Musk's claims about the safety of Tesla vehicles, the data tells a different story. Since 2013, there have been hundreds of fatal crashes involving Tesla electric vehicles. At least 32 deaths in the US and three abroad occurred while Autopilot was active.
Public Perception and Concerns
Tesla promotes Autopilot as a significant safety feature on its website. However, NHTSA data from 2022 contradicts this portrayal, revealing 273 crashes involving Autopilot between July 2021 and May 2022. Moreover, leaked data showed that Tesla was aware of over 3,000 customer complaints about Autopilot.
Tesla's "Full-Self Driving" feature has also been under scrutiny. Due to concerns about the system's propensity to break traffic laws, Tesla had to recall its FSD Beta for nearly 363,000 vehicles.
Unintended Acceleration Issue
In a surprising turn, NHTSA reopened an investigation into claims of unintended acceleration by Tesla EVs. A white paper by a safety researcher in Minnesota highlighted a potential design flaw in Tesla's inverter that could cause unintended acceleration. This paper prompted NHTSA to reconsider its previous stance on the issue.
As the NHTSA wraps up its investigation, the automotive world awaits its findings. The outcomes could have significant implications for Tesla and the broader electric vehicle industry. Safety remains paramount, and it's crucial for both Tesla and regulatory bodies to ensure the well-being of drivers and passengers.