Tesla, Volvo among five carmakers under NHTSA investigation for ADAS crashes

(Credit: Gabeincal)

Tesla, Volvo, Cadillac, Lexus, and Navya are five car companies under investigation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) for crashes that occurred while Advanced Driver Assistance Systems were activated, the agency said.

The NHTSA released a list of 36 total accidents that occurred in the United States, dating back as far as June 2016. Of the 36 accidents, 30 of them involve Tesla vehicles. Not all of the Teslas listed were utilizing Autopilot, however. Three of the Teslas listed have their cases described as “Electric Vehicle – Not in Autopilot,” according to the list that the NHTSA provided to Teslarati. Additionally, one incident hasn’t been confirmed of whether a Tesla Model S utilized Autopilot during the time of its crash. Five accidents are listed as “More Over Law Special Study,” while one is listed as “Heavy Truck Underride.”

The NHTSA did not provide a statement.

Tesla’s Autopilot systems, despite being proven through statistics to make vehicles nearly 10 times less likely to be involved in an accident compared to a human driver, are still widely considered controversial by many who have not experienced the system. Autopilot is not fully autonomous, and Tesla has never claimed that its vehicles should be operated without the driver paying attention to road conditions or surroundings. However, the company has implemented several safety features to ensure that drivers are paying attention during the use of Autopilot or the Full Self-Driving suite.

On the list are several notable accidents that are recent. One involves the Model S crash in Texas that killed two after catching fire. The NHTSA already performed a preliminary investigation on the accident and determined that Autosteer could not have be engaged where the accident took place.

The NHTSA said:

“The vehicle was equipped with Autopilot, Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system. Using Autopilot requires both the Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and the Autosteer systems to be engaged. 2 NTSB tests of an exemplar car at the crash location showed that Traffic-Aware Cruise Control could be engaged but that Autosteer was not available on that part of the road.”

Another accident, which was listed as “Heavy Truck Underride,” involved a Model Y in Detroit. Despite the local Police department stating that reckless driving was the likely cause of the crash, the NHTSA is still investigating the accident.

Tesla Model Y crash in Detroit likely caused by reckless driving, not Autopilot: police

Volvo is among the other manufacturers on the list, with a March 2017 and a March 2018 accident involving its XC90. The 2017 accident resulted in minor injuries, while the 2018 incident was fatal to the passenger. The XC90 was utilizing ADAS during both accidents, the NHTSA chart says. The Lexus RH450H, the Cadillac CT6 (listed twice), and the Navya Arma were also all listed with ADAS case types, but all of these vehicles had no injuries due to the accidents.

Update: Volvo reached out to Teslarati and indicated that both of their investigations were from Uber test vehicle incidents. The company told us:

“It’s important to note that, to the best of our knowledge, both lines in the NHTSA chart marked as ”XC90” are Uber test vehicle incidents. At the time of the fatal incident, Volvo’s automatic emergency braking system was deactivated for Uber’s testing purposes.”

Tesla, Volvo among five carmakers under NHTSA investigation for ADAS crashes
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