The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expanded its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot technology and is now asking for a so-called “engineering analysis.” Autopilot, which the automaker says is an “advanced driver assistance system that enhances safety and convenience behind the wheel,” has faced mounting scrutiny in the past few years.
Reports of crashes involving the use of the technology have continued to accumulate, and an investigation would help determine whether or not Tesla vehicles do enough to ensure drivers still pay attention while using the Autopilot technology.
The NHTSA said it had upgraded its probe “to extend the existing crash analysis, evaluate additional data sets, perform vehicle evaluations, and to explore the degree to which Autopilot and associated Tesla systems may exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks by undermining the effectiveness of the driver’s supervision.”
The agency first launched a probe into the Autopilot system last year after over a dozen reports that Tesla vehicles using the system were involved in crashes with emergency response vehicles. Hundreds of other crashes involving Autopilot have also been investigated, including one accident that caused a fatality and speculation that another accident killed three people.
Most Tesla drivers questioned after relevant accidents have reported they followed the warnings given by their vehicles, leading to scrutiny about Autopilot’s ability to provide proper safety guidance.
The outcome of the investigation could result in a recall of over 830,000 Tesla vehicles.
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