US Auto Safety Regulators Escalated Investigation into Tesla Autopilot
US automotive safety regulators have escalated investigations into crashes related to Tesla's autopilot. This is an important step in deciding whether to order a safety recall.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement released on Thursday that it is expanding an investigation into a series of accidents that began last August in which Tesla vehicles using Autopilot caused first-response vehicles to crash into a road emergency.
NHTSA also said it has expanded its autopilot investigation to include more widespread accidents as well as emergencies. The agency said it would continue to investigate how the driver interacts with the autopilot and how it could reduce the driver's attention.
Electric car maker Tesla has long argued that driving with the autopilot turned on is safer than not turning it on. Tesla points out internal data showing that accidents were less common when drivers used the autopilot. Some researchers have criticized Tesla's methodology.
NHTSA said it launched its first investigation last year and has identified 11 accidents since early 2018 when an autopilot Tesla vehicle collided with one or more vehicles involved in an emergency response situation. The agency said in a recent submission that it had discovered six other accidents related to first responder vehicles using Tesla and autopilot.