US safety agency seeks driver-assistance data from 12 automakers for Tesla probe

The US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has asked twelve automakers to provide data related to their driver assistance systems as a part of its investigation into twelve crashes involving Tesla electric vehicles with activated Autopilot systems.

The interior of a Tesla Model S is shown in autopilot mode in San Francisco, California, US. (REUTERS)
The interior of a Tesla Model S is shown in autopilot mode in San Francisco, California, US.

The twelve auto companies, to whom NHTSA sent letters asking for data, include BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Stellantis, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen. The letters asked these automakers to give details about their own driver assistance systems, including how they were developed and tested, and what methods are used to detect the presence of first responder vehicles.

Also Read : US senators urge FTC to probe Tesla over self-driving claims)

Using the data gathered, the safety agency plans to conduct a benchmark analysis of vehicles whose models have the ability under certain circumstances, to automatically control both the steering and the breaking or acceleration.

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NHTSA had opened its preliminary investigation into the crashes relating to Tesla in August. The probe covers eleven accidents that resulted in 17 injuries and a single death. These accidents have taken place since 2018 and mostly involve parked emergency police vehicles. Also, in each of these accidents, a Tesla driving assistance system, either the standard Autopilot system or simply the cruise control function, was engaged.

The investigation will cover 765,000 Tesla cars. This is almost the number of cars Tesla has sold in the US since 2014. NHTSA has previously informed that it will assess the Autopilot technology and how it monitors and draws driver attention while in use. The functionality of this technology in terms of detecting and responding to objects and events will be probed as well.

Also Read : How does Tesla Autopilot detect emergency vehicles? US asks EV giant for info

Recently, a twelfth Tesla Autopilot took place which again involved a police cruiser with flashing lights. The US safety agency has now included this crash as well in its investigation. Tesla's Autopilot system, which is already under the scanner, has become the subject of controversy after the series of accidents and the NHTSA probe.

(with inputs from AFP)

First Published Date: 15 Sep 2021, 11:07 AM IST
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