The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now investigating two more accidents allegedly involving the use of either Tesla’s Autopilot or Full Self Driving (FSD) features.
The NHTSA is currently involved in 41 crash investigations related to the company’s self-driving services, 14 of which were reportedly fatal. The safety regulator has had a busy month as it has assisted with recall efforts and looked into rules violations. Tesla is also not the only company using autopilot or driver assistant features to be examined by the agency, as it began probing crash reports involving GM-backed robotaxi business Cruise.
Presently, the automaker provides two versions of driver assistance. Tesla’s Autopilot function comes standard in all models, and is provides basic services. Despite its name, FSD is not described as fully autonomous, but does offer more functionality than the Autopilot system. The latter also costs $199 a month, or $15,000 up front. Both products are named in the NHTSA’s cases.
Automakers have become increasingly jaded over the utility of self-driving cars. Most of the startups that promised to deliver a fully autonomous car were shutdown, and even major tech companies, such as Apple, were forced to dial back expectations. The software is generally deemed too expensive, and too risky. Unlike most traffic accidents which arise from driver error, automakers can be found liable if the software or hardware used to autopilot the vehicle is proven to be responsible for a crash.
Regardless, the NHTSA has yet to conclude whether the incidents were truly the fault of autopilot or FSD features or not. What their recommendations to the auto-industry remains to be seen.
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