U.S. Launches Probe into Tesla Autopilot and First Responder Crashes

The U.S. government has opened an investigation into the Autopilot systems on 765,000 Tesla vehicles, ranging from current models all the way back to the company’s 2014 models, as reported by the Associated Press.

The news comes from a post on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) website on Monday, pointing out 11 different crashes since 2018 involving Tesla’s Autopilot.

In the post, the agency says it is looking at Tesla Autopilot crashes in which 17 people were injured, and one person was killed. In addition to the NHTSA’s investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the NHTSA force Tesla to create a better driver monitoring system, though the NHTSA has yet to take any such action.

“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,” explained the NHTSA.

The NHTSA’s cited accidents began as early as January 22, 2018, in Culver City, California, when a Tesla with Autopilot engaged crashed into a parked firetruck with its lights flashing, dealing with another accident in the travel lanes. The report also detailed similar crashes in Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan and Florida.

In the documents, the NHTSA wrote, “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.”

Last month, a lawsuit was also filed in California against Tesla after a deadly crash involving Autopilot killed the plaintiffs’ 15-year-old son.