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NHTSA’s Tesla Autopilot evaluation is requesting information about the entire Autopilot fleet

tesla autopilot

In the now all too familiar and tragic event that occurred on May 7th, 2016, involving one of Ohio’s biggest ‘Teslavangelist’, we now have the official letter (via Reddit) sent to Tesla last Friday, the 8th, from the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You can read it in full below.

Addressed to Matthew Schwall, Tesla’s director of field engineering, it states in the opening paragraph that the ODI has opened a preliminary evaluation after the fatal crash was reported to the agency:

ODI has opened Preliminary Evaluation PE16-007 to examine the performance of the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system and any other forward crash mitigation or forward crash avoidance systems enabled and in use at the time of the fatal crash involving a model year (MY) 2015 Tesla Model S that was reported to ODI by Tesla, and to request information to assist us in our investigation.

To expand, the letter goes insofar to request a wide variety of information about multiple subject matters. And while you can find the whole laundry list of items that the ODI demands of Tesla in the embedded letter further down, here are some of the requests we found to be most notable:

  • The detailed list of all of Tesla’s Autopilot capable vehicles including the VIN, model, model year, total mileage with Autosteer on, total number of “Hands on Wheel” Autosteer warnings records, etc.
  • The list of all consumer complaints, field reports, reports involving a crash, property damage claims and lawsuits.
  • To describe all past, present or future analyses and studies that pertain to or are possibly related to the alleged defect.
  • And to describe any and all modifications to Tesla’s vehicles that may or may not relate to the alleged defect.

These are just a handful of the requests that are to be followed up by Tesla in the near future. What is particularly interesting here is how far-reaching is the evaluation. A list of all Autopilot-capable vehicles in Tesla fleet and what looks like all the software updates related to Autopilot will take some time to go through. We shouldn’t expect this evaluation to be completed anytime soon.

So with all the media coverage and controversy Autopilot is receiving, what is destined for the beloved company’s semi-autonomous driving technology that consumers are seemingly becoming increasingly overconfident in?  Some think that the system should be simplified to a greater extent, like Consumer Reports’ request to disable Autosteer, while some think that it shouldn’t and that the public should always be aware when using Autopilot. Additional education on the limits of the system could be helpful in this matter.

Sterling Anderson, Tesla’s director of Autopilot programs, seems to think that education is the way to go:

Here’s the request for information in full:

[scribd id=318275715 key=key-ctuNyIeHkWiEX1Da3hlq mode=scroll]

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