Tesla Autopilot investigation closed by NHTSA — but now a recall query looms

Tesla Autopilot is getting further scrutiny from the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminsitration (NHTSA) as the agency has opened a Rcall Query to determine whether its safeguards that were rolled out in an Over-the-Air update late last year are effective.

The NHTSA closed an Investigation into Tesla Autopilot that it opened in 2021. But now, it is looking into the recall that Tesla rolled out in December to increase driver attentiveness.

Tesla Autopilot Investigation Findings

According to the NHTSA, a U.S. government agency, its Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) completed an analysis of 956 crashes up to August 30, 2023:

“In approximately half (489) of those crashes, ODI found: 1.) that there was insufficient data to make an assessment; 2.) the other vehicle was at fault; 3.) Autopilot was found to not be in use; or 4.) the crash was otherwise unrelated to EA22002. Of the remaining 467 crashes, ODI identified trends resulting in three categories: collisions in which the frontal plane of the Tesla struck another vehicle or obstacle with adequate time for an attentive driver to respond to avoid or mitigate the crash (211), roadway departures where Autosteer was inadvertently disengaged by the driver’s inputs (111), and roadway departures in low traction conditions such as wet roadways (145).”

Tesla met with the NHTSA in Q4 2023 and rolled out a Defect Information Report equipped with a recall that was applicable to all Tesla vehicles.

Tesla Rolls Out a Recall/Over-the-Air Update

It then rolled out an Over-the-Air update as part of Recall 23V-838, which aimed to help drivers remain more attentive in the form of “increasing the prominence of visual alerts on the user interface, simplifying engagement and disengagement of Autosteer, additional checks upon engaging Autosteer and while using the feature outside controlled access highways and when approaching traffic controls, and eventual suspension from Autosteer use if the driver repeatedly fails to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility while the feature is engaged.”

Tesla to address NHTSA’s 2-million-vehicle Autopilot recall with OTA update

Investigation Closed, Recall Query Opened

The NHTSA said in a document today that it would close investigation EA22002, which was opened on August 13, 2021, and aimed to assess the performance of Tesla Autopilot.

Concurrent with that closing, it is opening a Recall Query, named RQ24009, to assess the effectiveness of Tesla’s Autopilot remedy (23V-838) rolled out in December.

The NHTSA said it had identified at least 13 crashes during its EA22002 investigation involving “one or more fatalities and many more involving serious injuries, in which foreseeable driver misuse of the system played an apparent role.”

The agency said it has concerns due to post-remedy crash events and results from preliminary tests of remedied vehicles. It also wants more information on the fact that Tesla “stated that a portion of the remedy both requires the owner to opt in and allows a driver to readily reverse it.”

Tesla Autopilot is a Level 2 system that still requires the attention of the driver, and they must be ready and able to take over in any circumstance as the car is not fully autonomous.

I’d love to hear from you! If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, please email me at joey@teslarati.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @KlenderJoey, or if you have news tips, you can email us at tips@teslarati.com.

Tesla Autopilot investigation closed by NHTSA — but now a recall query looms


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