The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will conduct an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance technology, the Associated Press reports. About 765,000 vehicles will be included in the probe, roughly the entire production of Teslas in the last seven years. The probes will specifically investigate the role of Autopilot in crashes involving moving Teslas and parked emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances.
There was one fatality and 17 people injured in the crashes that NHTSA is investigating. The investigation found 11 crashes in which Tesla vehicles struck emergency vehicles or workers despite the use of flashing lights or other warning devices. NHTSA also previously investigated 31 other crashes, of which 25 involved Autopilot, and in which 10 deaths occurred.
The investigation follows several years of recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which has recommended that Tesla make several changes to its Autopilot system. NTSB recommended that it be geofenced (limited to operation in areas where it can be validated to safely perform) and require better monitoring of driver attention levels. Autopilot, like many driver assistance systems, can be easily manipulated to trick the car into thinking the driver is paying the requisite amount of attention.
Despite Autopilot’s name (and the billing of the system’s optional “Full Self-Driving” capability), it is not a fully autonomous (or self-driving) system. There are no self-driving cars for sale today. Tesla’s Autopilot system is an advanced driver assistance system, which requires the driver to be alert and ready to re-take control at any moment with what could be a very short explicit warning from the car or no warning at all.
That handoff problem will be central to NHTSA’s probe. In documents filed about the investigation, NHTSA said that it would “assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation.” The result of the investigation could be an enforcement action by NHTSA, such as a recall.
Source: Read Full Article