The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in America is upgrading its probe into the advanced driver assistance system called Autopilot in 830,000 Tesla vehicles. This is the last step before the agency can legally call for a recall of the units.
According to a report in Reuters, NHTSA had opened an investigation into Tesla after a dozen crashes in August 2021. These crashes occurred when Tesla vehicles hit stopped emergency vehicles while on autopilot.
According to a release on Thursday, the NHTSA has identified a further six crashes they are investigating.
The new stage of the probe is called engineering analysis, and is a required step before vehicles can be recalled. The agency is looking into how Tesla is ensuring that their drivers are paying attention while the car is on autopilot.
The issue seems to be that most drivers did pay attention to the alert systems, which were designed to be fail safe, thereby raising questions on the efficacy of the alert systems themselves. According to the NHTSA, the Forward Collision Warnings activated just prior to impact in many cases, thereby causing the emergency brakes to intervene in only half the cases.
“On average in these crashes, autopilot aborted vehicle control less than one second prior to the first impact,” the agency said, according to Reuters.