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Feds Ask for Information from Tesla Concerning its Autopilot Probe


August 25, 2022

According to a news report published on reuters.com, federal auto safety regulators asked Tesla Inc. to answer specific questions concerning its in-car camera that monitors driver awareness. The request for information comes after the federal government launched its probe concerning 830,000 Tesla vehicles that use Tesla's advanced driver assistance system- Autopilot. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is evaluating Autopilot's performance after the agency identified a dozen incidents where Tesla vehicles crashed into stopped emergency vehicles.

The NHTSA's nine-page letter to Tesla requires the automaker to answer questions by October 12, 2022. Tesla claims that its cabin camera, which is placed above the rear-view mirror, determines driver inattentiveness and provides audible alerts that remind the driver to maintain concentration on the road while Autopilot is engaged.

NHTSA also stated that it was asking for information on the cabin camera's "impact on driver engagement alert types and timing."  NHTSA stated that the agency wanted an explanation for "design decisions" on driver attention enforcement and all evidence concerning the evidence justifying the time the driver has to keep their hands off the steering wheel prior to a warning alert.

NHTSA is also reviewing how Tesla vehicles make sure that drivers are paying attention to the road ahead. The agency reported back in June that there was evidence suggesting that drivers complied with Tesla's alert system, and this raised more questions about the effectiveness of their alert system.

Consumer Reports reported that the warning sensors could be covered up without causing an alarm, causing the vehicle to decelerate or turn off the system. Consumer Reports reported that Tesla installed an over-the-air software update that did issue a warning when the camera was covered while the vehicle was in FSD, but not when Autopilot was turned on. Autopilot is intended to allow Teslas to accelerate, steer, and brake automatically within its traffic lane, while FSD allows vehicles to make lane changes and obey traffic signals.

NHTSA has also initiated 38 special investigations concerning accidents involving Tesla automobiles using Autopilot or other advanced systems. Nineteen deaths have been connected to those Tesla Autopilot accidents. California's Department of Transportation has also accused Tesla of false advertisement because they claim their vehicles provide fully autonomous vehicle control. California's Department of Motor Vehicles is pursuing legal remedies that might include suspending Tesla's license to sell its motor vehicles in California and requiring the company to provide restitution to Tesla owners.

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https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/us-seeks-information-tesla-cabin-camera-autopilot-probe-2022-08-18/

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