By Bryan Jonston, AUTO CONNECTED CAR NEWS
August 16, 2021
NHTSA opened an investigation into Autopilot on 765,000 Tesla models including striking first responders. The agency stated in support documents, “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.”
Consumer Watchdog and U.S. senators comment on the investigation.
The nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog applauded the decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate Tesla’s Autopilot feature and crashes related to it.
Consumer Watchdog has long been a critic of the rush to deploy the technology and its dangers and called for the federal government to take action to stop it.
“Tesla has treated its customers like guinea pigs and deployed a faulty technology that can kill people with the false promise it is an Autopilot,” said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog. “We have long known that Tesla’s camera and radar mistakes signs, vehicles, and even the moon for other objects that are not there. It was dangerous to allow Tesla to deploy an unapproved technology and test it in real time on real people. Now it’s time for NHTSA to investigate how much Tesla knew about its defects and how dangerous it really is. Tesla chose not to include the more expensive lidar, a combination of laser and radar, in its car, which would have increased safety in and the cost of the vehicle. That choice has proven fatal for some of its customers.”
– U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, issued the following joint statement after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system following a number of crashes at first responder sites:
“NHTSA is rightly investigating Tesla’s Autopilot after a series of concerning crashes. This probe must be swift, thorough, and transparent to ensure driver and public safety. It should inform the agency’s recommendations on fixes the company must implement to improve the safety of its automated driving and driver assistance technology and prevent future crashes, as we urged in April. We look forward to reviewing the agency’s findings.”
In April, Markey and Blumenthal sent a letter to NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), calling for federal investigators to conduct an in-depth probe into a deadly Texas crash, and to develop recommendations for how automated driving and driving assistance systems like Tesla’s Autopilot can be improved.