The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now seeking advanced driver assist information from 12 automakers as it attempts to expand its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot.
According to a report on The Verge, the government is probing a dozen incidents involving Tesla vehicles crashing into emergency vehicles.
The probe has been launched in a bid to prevent future dangerous incidents caused by automated driving systems.
Expansion of Investigation
The federal agency’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) sent letters to a number of major automakers including Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen asking for information about their Level 2 driver assist systems in which vehicles can simultaneously control steering braking and acceleration under specific circumstances.
NHTSA is asking automakers to provide the number of vehicles with Level 2 driver assist systems manufactured in the United States, as well as the total number of miles covered with those systems engaged and a recent list of any changes or updates to these systems. The agency is also asking automakers for information about complaints from customers, field and crash reports, and lawsuits related to the Level 2 systems.
Critical Data Requested
This request from NHTSA comes two weeks after the agency sent an order to Tesla to provide data on the operation of its Autopilot system including details about which of its sold vehicles are equipped with Autopilot, as well as the system’s operating parameters. This investigation could have significant repercussions for Tesla, which has pushed the envelope in terms of releasing experimental software to untrained customers in order to advance its vision of autonomous driving.
NHTSA’s investigation covers about 765,000 Tesla vehicles that were released between 2014 and 2021. The agency is specifically looking into 12 crashes in which Tesla owners using the company’s Autopilot feature have collided with stationary emergency vehicles. These incidents resulted in 17 injuries and one fatality.
A vast majority of these incidents took place after dark, with the software ignoring warning lights, flares, cones, etc. While Tesla has until Oct. 22 to provide the requested data, other automakers, such as Ford and GM, have until Nov. 3. International automakers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Subaru have until Nov. 17 to respond. Those who fail to respond could face civil penalties of up to $115 million.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a Tesla Autopilot malfunction or in any other vehicle that has automated or semi-automated features, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses by filing an auto product liability lawsuit. Our auto defect lawyers hope that this investigation sheds more light on the inadequacy of these systems and gives automakers and tech companies the motivation to do due diligence before they release these products to consumers.