Federal Tesla investigation to probe 765,000 EVs for crashes involving Autopilot use

The feds are taking a close look at Autopilot crashes.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Monday announced a formal investigation into Tesla’s vehicles and their Autopilot Level 2 driver-assistance functions. Federal investigators said this new probe will look at some 765,000 cars from Tesla and includes Models Y, 3, S and X.

In an Office of Defects Investigation document, NHTSA described the core problem as “subject vehicle crashes with in-road or roadside first responders.” The ODI document added that it’s aware of 11 crashes or fires that fit the problem and 17 injuries. There’s also one reported fatality. Tesla vehicles have “encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes,” the preliminary report said. “The involved subject vehicles were all confirmed to have been engaged in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control during the approach to the crashes.” The reported crashes took place between 2014 and 2021, with four of them this year.

NHTSA did not immediately return a request for additional comment. Tesla does not operate a public relations department to field requests for comment.

NHTSA and the National Traffic Safety Board have for years investigated various Tesla crashes involving the company’s driver-assistance technology. The system is a Level 2 technology on the SAE’s scale of autonomy, and does not provide any sort of fully autonomous driving technology. The NTSB last year spoke up about a lack of accountability for Tesla, but also regulators, including NHTSA, in the wake of high-profile fatal crashes in which drivers were apparently not in control. It also called on NHTSA to implement more regulations surrounding driver-assistance technology and self-driving cars in the wake of Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” beta.

This past June NHTSA took its strictest stance yet on these new technologies as it mandated crash reports for self-driving cars and driver-assist systems. If any vehicle equipped with one of these types of technologies is involved in a crash, the agency will require a report from the automaker within 24 hours, plus updates with additional information over the following days.

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