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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launches investigation into Tesla Autopilot over emergency responder crashes

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launches investigation into Tesla Autopilot over emergency responder crashes


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launches investigation into Tesla Autopilot over emergency responder crashes

‘SNL’: Elon Musk hosts, Miley Cyrus honors Dolly Parton, her godmotherElon Musk showed his funny side hosting “Saturday Night Live” but also caused a dip in the price of cryptocurrency Dogecoin.USA TODAY, WochitU.S. auto-safety regulators have launched an investigation into Tesla’s partially self-driving car system after nearly a dozen reports of the company’s vehicles crashing into cars at the scenes of incidents involving emergency responders.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday opened the probe into Tesla’s Autopilot, which automatically steers, brakes and accelerates the vehicle on most roads with lanes.While the system can drive the vehicle on its own in many circumstances, drivers are supposed to keep their hands on the wheel in case they need to take over when Autopilot encounters a situation that’s too complex for it to handle on its own.But Autopilot has come under scrutiny on a number of occasions in recent years. The National Transportation Safety Board and NHTSA have investigated Autopilot multiple times, including for a 2016 crash that killed a man in Florida who authorities said had too much confidence in the system’s capabilities.Safety watchdogs have criticized Tesla for exaggerating Autopilot’s functions, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk has argued that the system is safer than human drivers. More recently, Autopilot was in the spotlight after a deadly crash in Texas involving one of its vehicles. That incident called attention to the fact that drivers can trick Autopilot into thinking someone’s behind the wheel even if they’re not.After crash, Tesla takes action: Tesla activates cabin camera for monitoring drivers using AutopilotMove here, get paid: Small towns offer up to $20K just to get you to live there, work remotelyTesla owners have posted photos to YouTube showing themselves abusing the technology by, for example, riding in the back seat while the vehicle is driving itself.Soon after that incident, Tesla announced that it was activating cameras to monitor whether drivers are paying attention to the road while using Autopilot. In the newest probe, NHTSA investigators have identified 11 crashes since January 2018 “in which Tesla models of various configurations have encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes,” according to an Office of Defects Investigation document. “Most incidents took place after dark and the crash scenes encountered included scene control measures such as first responder vehicle lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board, and road cones. 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 incidents occurred on Tesla vehicles from the model years 2014 through 2021. Tesla does not attach model years to its vehicles, but federal authorities do.”The investigation will assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation,” investigators said.Tesla did not respond to a request seeking comment. The company eliminated its media relations department sometime in the last year or so.The incidents involving emergency responders occurred in San Diego; Miami; Lansing, Michigan; Montgomery County, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Cochise County, Arizona; West Bridgewater, Massachusetts; Cloverdale, Indiana; Norwalk, Connecticut; Laguna Beach, California; and Culver City, California.You can follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter here for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.

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