Tesla Autopilot: the US launches a formal investigation into self-driving technology

TECH NEWS – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it is acting on 11 Tesla accidents involving emergency vehicles since 2018, some of which involved self-driving cars driving directly into them.


The investigation covers roughly 765 000 Tesla cars manufactured since 2014. This includes the full range: the Model Y, Model X, Model S and Model 3, the NHTSA said.

The agency was primarily concerned about the Tesla vehicles’ apparent inability to cope with vehicles stopped on the road – specifically, emergency vehicles arriving at an accident. The list of incidents included one in which a Tesla “crashed” into the back of a parked firetruck arriving at an accident and another in which it crashed into a parked police car.

The NHTSA said it had begun a preliminary investigation into “technologies and methods used to control, assist and enforce driver engagement when using Autopilot”. According to the agency, in the 11 crashes that triggered the investigation, either Autopilot or a system called Traffic Aware Cruise Control was active “immediately” before the collisions.


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The assistive technology allows the car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically. However, the system has proved deceptive as it does not automatically steer the car, and drivers must maintain control and attention at all times. Tesla marketed the feature as “Autopilot” and promised “full self-driving”, which is already available to some users in beta (although after all, the service may not be very popular, at least we wouldn’t dare take advantage of it – ed.).

However, it has also been found that users have frequently abused the system, with examples including using the phone while the car is unattended, changing car seats while driving and letting go of the steering wheel.

Source: BBC News

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