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Government To Probe Tesla Autopilot Crashes

The US government has launched a formal investigation into numerous crashes involving Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving system failing to see emergency vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is looking into 11 crashes since 2018 in which Tesla 2014-21 model S, 3, X, and Y vehicles hit first-responder vehicles rattending other incidents, causing a total of 17 injuries and one fatality.

“Most incidents took place after dark and the crash scenes encountered included scene control measures such as first responder vehicle lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board, and road cones.

“The involved subject vehicles were all confirmed to have been engaged in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control during the approach to the crashes,” the agency said.

Around 765,000 vehicles in the US can use Autopilot – almost all of Tesla’s cars on American roads today – and the agency is planning to “assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation”.

“The investigation will additionally assess the OEDR by vehicles when engaged in Autopilot mode, and ODD in which the Autopilot mode is functional.

“The investigation will also include examination of the contributing circumstances for the confirmed crashes listed below and other similar crashes,” it said.

The ODI’s probe is yet another headache for Tesla, with high-profile cases of its cars bursting into flames, recalls of models sold in China with faulty cruise control systems, and a massive fire at a Tesla battery site near Geelong all making headlines in recent months.

Tesla recently hiked prices on its Model S sedan and Model X SUV in Australia.

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