Multiple news outlets have now confirmed that federal safety regulators are investigating at least eleven incidents involving Tesla cars using “Autopilot” or other self-driving features that have crashed into emergency vehicles when coming up to the scene of an earlier crash.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that at least seven of these incidents resulted in seventeen injuries and one death.
The self-driving features at issue are the Tesla “Autopilot” feature and the traffic-aware cruise control feature. The “Autopilot” feature is an assisted-driving system that can steer, accelerate, and brake the vehicle on its own.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has the authority to force a recall or require new safety measures to be implemented.
It is believed that one particular area of concern for federal regulators is “driver monitoring,” meaning how Tesla makes sure that drivers using the “Autopilot” or other self-driving features in their vehicles are paying attention to the roadway and can re-take control of the vehicle in case the self-driving system fails to recognize a hazard in the roadway. The risk of driver inattention is high as drivers’ expectations or pretensions of having a “driver-less” vehicle may often outpace the current technology that is in place. Regulators may also examine under what roadway conditions a driver can turn the self-driving system on and how the systems detect and brake for objects in the roadway.
Time will tell whether regulators find that Tesla can patch a gap or require more drastic reforms in the emerging self-driving car market.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a motor vehicle collision, call the experienced lawyers at Houston law firm Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner at 713-396-3964 or toll-free at 1-800-594-4884 for a personal injury consultation.