US Gov launches formal probe into Tesla’s Autopilot after 11 crashes

US Gov launches formal probe into Tesla’s Autopilot after 11 crashes

The government of the United States has reportedly launched a formal probe into Tesla's proprietary Autopilot driving system after concerns emerged that the AI is facing difficulties identifying emergency vehicles parked on the side of the road.

According to reports, the federal agency that is responsible for ensuring highway traffic safety across the US, has identified a string of 11 crashes involving Tesla vehicles where they hit vehicles that were parked around an emergency site while on Autopilot.

The investigation was announced at the start of the week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This new probe would focus on Models 3, X, S, and Y, manufactured between 2014 and 2021. Tesla has sold more than 765,000 vehicles in the United States since the beginning of the 2014 model years. As a result, it is expected that the probe would impact almost every Tesla on road today.

Several accidents involving Tesla vehicles on Autopilot have been identified by the agency since 2018, where they have hit vehicles parked at spots that had flares, flashing lights, and illuminated road cones as well as arrow boards warning drivers of potential hazards.

The NHTSA stated that more than 17 people have been injured, and one fatality has been recorded due to such accidents.

Just days after a Tesla crash in Texas, which killed the two men inside the car, an independent study found that Tesla vehicles can be easily tricked to drive themselves on autopilot mode without anyone at the wheel.

As long as there is a human driver at the wheel to take control of the car in emergency situations, Tesla Autopilot can effectively keep the vehicle in its lane and steer, brake, and accelerate accordingly. The system has been designed to keep the vehicle at a safe distance from other vehicles in the lane.

Of the total 31 crashes that were probed by the agency, Tesla Autopilot was involved in 25. Moreover, as per data released by NHTSA, 10 fatalities were reported from these accidents.

Following the launch of the investigation, Tesla shares fell as much as 2% before the market opened for trading.

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Sunil Jha

Sunil Jha has been a part of the content industry for close to two years. Having previously worked as a voice over artist and sportswriter, he now focuses on writing articles for, across a slew of topics, ranging from technology to trade and finance. With a business-oriented educational background, Sunil brings forth the expertise of deep-dive research and a strategic approach in his write ups.