Tesla’s Autopilot probe ramps up with US regulatory data demands

(Bloomberg) — Tesla Inc. is facing… A July 1 deadline to provide US regulators with information about its largest recall ever because drivers using Autopilot continue to crash while using the system.

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In a letter posted on its website Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pressing Tesla about the amount of miles consumers drive using the driver assistance system, and the number of times drivers have been warned to keep their hands on the wheel before and after the company’s December recall. . The agency announced last month that it was opening an inquiry into whether Tesla’s over-the-air software update adequately prevented misuse after 20 more accidents occurred in the months following the recall.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. If the company fails to respond quickly and fully to NHTSA, it faces fines of up to $27,168 per violation per day, with a maximum fine of more than $135 million, according to the letter.

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The information request represents the latest escalation of NHTSA’s examination of Autopilot dating back to August 2021, when the agency opened an investigation into the defect precipitated by collisions of Tesla vehicles with first responder vehicles. In the process of closing that investigation and opening the recall inquiry at the same time, the agency said Tesla’s means of keeping drivers engaged were weak and its system was too lax, resulting in a “critical safety gap” between drivers’ expectations and Autopilot’s actual capabilities.

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NHTSA has opened more than 50 special investigations into crashes involving Tesla vehicles suspected to be linked to the Autopilot system, with the pace of investigations increasing under the Biden administration.

Regulators scrutinizing Tesla’s driving systems go further than the NHTSA. The company revealed in January 2023 that it had received requests for documents from the Ministry of Justice related to the autopilot. Bloomberg also reported that month that the SEC was investigating CEO Elon Musk’s role in shaping Tesla’s self-driving claims.

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