The federal government’s Tesla Autopilot investigation enters a new phase

The federal government is upgrading its investigation into more than a dozen incidents of Tesla vehicles using Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles. The probe is now referred to as an “Engineering Analysis,” which is the second and final stage of an investigation before a potential recall.

This next phase will include additional testing and crash analysis “to investigate the extent to which Autopilot and associated Tesla systems can exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks by undermining the effectiveness of driver supervision,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said in a statement. documents posted on its website on Thursday.

The NHTSA is also expanding the number of Tesla vehicles that could be affected by the investigation from 765,000 to 830,000. The probe covers Tesla Models S, X, 3 and Y vehicles released from 2014 to 2021.

The agency is investigating 16 crashes in which Tesla owners using Autopilot crashed into stationary emergency vehicles, resulting in 15 injuries and one fatality. Most of these incidents took place after dark, with the software ignoring control measures, including warning lights, flares, cones and an illuminated arrow board.

The investigation was first launched in August 2021. Since then, the NHTSA has sought information from Tesla and 12 other automakers about their Level 2 driver assistance systems, which allow the vehicle to simultaneously control steering, braking and acceleration on specific road types. †

The agency is looking for mileage data and crash reports. Separately, the NHTSA also collects crash data from a broader group of companies that manufacture driver assistance systems and fully autonomous vehicles.

In its preliminary report, the NHTSA said most of the accidents involved emergency vehicles that would have been visible to the driver an average of eight seconds prior to the crash. “On average in these accidents, Autopilot lost control of the vehicle less than a second before the initial collision,” the agency reports.

Read the full report here: