The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered that Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) hand in detailed reports of its Autopilot data by October 22. Failure to do so will amount to fines of up to $115 million.
Car accidents involving the autopilot feature have been reported
In August, NHTSA said that it had begun its investigation of Tesla. They had gotten complaints of incidents where Tesla vehicles with the Autopilot activated had crashed into first responder vehicles with flashing lights. The agency had cited 11 incidences where 17 injuries and one death had occurred since 2018. However, a 12th incident has recently occurred.
In a letter to Tesla, NHTSA has asked the company to explain how the autopilot feature worked. They asked whether the system can ensure that the human driver keeps their eyes on the road while engaged and whether there are limits to where it can be used.
Tesla criticised for not having features to safeguard driver safety
Tesla has previously been criticised for not ensuring human drivers keep their hands on the wheels at all times. It was only a few months ago that the company finally activated the camera on the rearview mirror in Model Y and Model 3 cars. The camera is meant to detect and alert human drivers when they are not paying attention to the road. Additionally, autopilot is only meant for use on highways. However, there is no feature to ensure that drivers don’t use it on any other road.
In the document provided by NHTSA, the agency wants data on the number of cars Tesla has sold in the U.S. It wants to know of any lawsuit related to the Autopilot feature that has been brought against the company, any other crashes that Tesla has been made aware of and all complaints made by the customer on the driver assistance technology. NHTSA also request details on how the Autopilot interact with the human driver, how the driver can override the system and situations that would cause it to disengage by itself.
NHTSA has also ordered that all companies developing or deploying partially or highly automated systems report all crashes.