The federal government’s top auto-safety agency is significantly expanding investigations into Tesla and its autopilot driver-assistance system to determine if the technology poses a security risk.
The agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said Thursday it was upgrading its initial assessment of the autopilot to engineering analysis, with more intensive level verification required before a recall could be ordered.
The analysis will look at whether the autopilot fails to prevent drivers from distracting them from the road and engaging in other predictable and risky behaviors while using the system.
The NHTSA said it had not determined that the autopilot had a defect that could cause the car to crash while it was busy.
Extensive investigations have covered 830,000 vehicles sold in the United States. This includes all four Tesla cars – models S, X, 3 and Y – in the model years 2014 to 2021.
The agency’s preliminary assessment focused on 11 incidents in which automobile-controlled Tesla cars collided with parked emergency vehicles and their lights flickered. In that review, NHTSA said Thursday that the agency was aware of the 191 crash – not limited to those involving emergency vehicles – that needed a closer investigation.
This is a developing story. Check for updates.