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200 New Tesla Autopilot Function Accidents Are Now Under Federal Investigation

June 20, 2022

An online news report published on states that a federal investigation into Tesla's Autopilot function has intensified with more than 830,000 vehicles and approximately 200 new accidents under federal investigation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced on Thursday that the agency was "widening and upgrading" its Tesla Autopilot function investigation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that its probe involves reviewing additional accident data to resolve the safety of Tesla's Autopilot function.

The NHTSA also upgraded its probe, which is required before the agency requests Tesla to issue a recall. NHTSA states that no vehicle currently operates as a fully automated or "self-driving" vehicle. The NHTSA has escalated its investigation into whether Tesla's Autopilot function is possibly defective. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched its Autopilot investigation into 765,000 Tesla vehicles last year after identifying eleven accidents involving Tesla vehicles slamming into first-responder vehicles.

Last week, the NHTSA stated in a media release that it was broadening its probe into the "effectiveness of Tesla's driver assistance system" known as Autopilot. The NHTSA stated that it would examine data from over 830,000 Tesla cars and SUVs with the Autopilot function and the accidents where the Autopilot feature was being used.

NHTSA also reported that it was now treating the probe as an "Engineering Analysis." A necessary action before issuing a safety recall of the vehicles that come with Autopilot. NHTSA's expanded inquiry will examine the degree to which Autopilot exacerbated human factors or undermined the significance of the driver's risky behaviors.

The NHTSA has added six additional accidents involving emergency first-responder motor vehicles to its investigation. NHTSA stated that it discovered that Tesla's warning system did activate before impact in most cases. Officials with NHTSA also reported that the "Automatic Emergency Braking" system turned on in about half of the accidents. 

NHTSA officials studied 191 accidents that did not involve fire trucks, ambulances, or police vehicles. It stated it decreased the investigation by 85 collisions because the accidents were caused by other factors or the cause of the accidents was not determined. In 50 of the remaining cases, the NHTSA reported that drivers weren't responsive enough while driving. In around 25 other accidents, the NHTSA reported that the drivers were using Autopilot in circumstances like bad weather or other situations where the AutoPilot feature was not as effective. 

Tesla markets its Autopilot feature as technology that permits its cars to automatically steer within traffic lanes and brake. Tesla also labels its assistance feature as "Full Self-Driving." However, NHTSA states that there is no motor vehicle available for sale that is self-driving or fully automated.

NHTSA states that misuse of Tesla's Autopilot function does not mean that its system is not defective. In another investigation, NHTSA is investigating 758 cases of "phantom braking." Some owners stated that their Tesla vehicles suddenly braked while they were traveling at highway speeds. 

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