Tesla is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) for allegedly causing 13 collisions when the brand’s vehicles were making use of the Autopilot system.
The death under investigation by NHTSA occurred in New York on July 26, on the Long Island Expressway, when a 52-year-old man was struck by a Tesla Model Y SUV while changing a tire on his car; the Tesla was allegedly using Autopilot at the time of the crash.
Following this latest road event, NHTSA announced that it was aware of the “July 26 incident involving a Tesla vehicle on the Long Island Expressway in New York, and has launched a Special Crash Investigation team to investigate the crash.”
This event was the first to leave a fatality as a result of Tesla’s use of Autopilot; previous crashes had left 17 people injured, with no fatalities at that time.
NHTSA targeted Tesla when a Model X that was using Autopilot nearly hit a police officer in Orlando when it struck a patrol car that had stopped on the I-4 freeway to assist another stranded vehicle.
The regulator also asked Tesla Extesa for information on its Autopilot system, as well as complementary data on the crashes that have occurred using this system in the company’s models, the deadline for responses will be October 22.
NHTSA’s investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot is the most scrutiny the company has faced to date
In its initial report NHTSA stated that “most incidents took place after dark […] The involved subject vehicles were all confirmed to have been engaged in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control during the approach to the crashes.”
“The investigation will assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation,” the NHTSA report states.
Although the NHTSA report records the first incident with Tesla’s Autopilot on Jan. 22, 2018, the investigation will cover all Tesla Model X, Model S and Model 3 from 2014 through 2021. This is arguably the most comprehensive investigation a regulator has done on Tesla to date.
Tesla shares fell 4% when the NHTSA announced the decision to initiate the investigation into the Autopilot system.
Tesla’s Autopilot Assist system comes in all of the brand’s new models. Tesla, also sells a more advanced version of this system that is fully automatic for $10,000, or for subscribers paying $199. Despite being a fully automatic system Tesla warns on its own website that “active driver supervision” is required.
Elon Musk acknowledged on Twitter that Tesla’s Autopilot system “actually not great,” referring to the Beta 9.2 version of the “full self-driving” system.