The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent letters to 12 automakers, including General Motors, requesting their assistance in the probe into the Tesla Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system.
According to Reuters, NHTSA is requesting data and other insights into how other OEM semi-autonomous active safety systems work in order to make a “comparative analysis” with other “production vehicles equipped with the ability to control both steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under some circumstances.”
The safety watchdog is seeking for automakers to list crashes where an advanced driving assistance system was engaged “anytime during the period beginning 30 seconds immediately prior to the commencement of the crash.” It’s also looking for OEMs to share their own “strategies for detecting and responding to the presence of first responder/law enforcement vehicles,” when it comes to semi-autonomous driving systems.
NHTSA opened an investigation into Tesla Autopilot after it received reports of 12 separate crashes involving emergency vehicles in which the system was engaged. The agency also linked 17 injuries and one death to these 12 crashes. The investigation includes all Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot that were built between the 2014 and 2021 model years and located in the United States.
Like GM’s own Super Cruise system, Autopilot enables the vehicle to accelerate, brake and steer within its lane on the highway, as well as change lanes. Super Cruise uses cameras to track the driver’s eyes and ensure they are paying attention to the road ahead, while Autopilot does not include a facial tracking system. A monitoring system such as this seems to be a central part of the probe, with NHTSA saying 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.”
Tesla is required to provide NHTSA with crash data for the 12 accidents being investigated by October 22nd.