tesla autopilot

Here’s what the NHTSA wants to know about how Tesla’s Autopilot monitors drivers

(Credit: Tesla)

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) closed an investigation on Tesla Autopilot but simultaneously opened a Recall Query on an Over-the-Air Software Update that the automaker sent out to drivers in December.

The OTA Update that Tesla sent to Autopilot users installed new safeguards to alert drivers to pay more attention while using the semi-autonomous driving assistance feature.

Now, the NHTSA wants more information from the automaker to properly investigate the query.

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

The over two million vehicles that were subjected to Tesla’s OTA Update in December received new features that would help keep drivers alert while using Autopilot.

It helped simplify the activation of Autopilot, increased the strictness of Autopilot when leaving a highway, increased driver monitoring in the moments following Autopilot engagement, introduced a one-week suspension of drivers who were found to be abusing Autopilot’s abilities, and increased the size and prominence of alerts.

Tesla release notes detail remedies to address NHTSA Autopilot “recall”

However, the NHTSA said in a new document released to the public on Tuesday that its Office of Defects Investigation found that 20 crashes have occurred since these new driver monitoring features have been installed.

The NHTSA now wants to know more about the recall. As it said in the document, it does not see a difference in the pre and post-recall system:

“NHTSA completed preliminary testing at its Vehicle Research and Test Center (VRTC). In its evaluation of the remedy, VRTC was unable to identify a difference in the initiation of the driver warning cascade between pre-remedy and post-remedy (camera obscured) conditions. ODI will evaluate the adequacy of recall remedy warnings as part of this investigation.”

It also said that the recall’s first item, which is the single pull activation of Autopilot, is not the default setting.

It also said that it can be “readily enabled and disabled” by consumers.

The NHTSA is requesting information from Tesla that will examine the filing of the safety recall, the number of Hands-on-Wheel warnings displayed, and “design decisions regarding the company’s decision to increase the strictness of driver attentiveness requirements when approaching traffic controls off-highway.”

The NHTSA said it expects to receive this information from Tesla by July 1.

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Here’s what the NHTSA wants to know about how Tesla’s Autopilot monitors drivers
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