Automobile

NHTSA seeking driver-assist data from automakers in Tesla Autopilot probe

WASHINGTON — U.S. auto safety regulators are requesting substantial amounts of data on advanced driver-assistance systems from major automakers to aid their investigation into 12 Tesla crashes involving Autopilot and first responder scenes.

NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation sent letters Monday to 12 automakers, including Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Toyota Motor North America and Volkswagen Group of America, to gather information for comparing vehicles equipped with Level 2 driver-assist systems, where the vehicle has the ability to control steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under certain conditions.

For each automaker, the agency is seeking the number of vehicles equipped with Level 2 systems that have been manufactured for sale, lease or operation in the U.S. as well as the cumulative mileage covered with the systems engaged and a log of the most recent updates to the systems.

The agency also is requesting all consumer complaints, field reports, crash reports and lawsuits that may relate to the driver-assist systems.

Automakers must describe the types of roads and driving conditions where the systems are intended to be used, and the methods and technologies used to prevent usage outside the operational design domain specified to customers. In addition, automakers must provide an overview of their approach to enforce driver engagement or attentiveness while the systems are in use.

Ford, GM and Stellantis must respond to NHTSA’s request by Nov. 3. The other automakers, including Honda, Nissan and Subaru, must do so by Nov 17.

Automakers that fail to respond or refuse to act could face civil penalties of up to nearly $115 million.

NHTSA in August opened an investigation into the Tesla’s Autopilot mode after a series of collisions with first responder vehicles where the driver-assist system was engaged.

NHTSA’s safety probe covers an estimated 765,000 Teslas from the 2014 to 2021 model years. Most of the crashes occurred after dark and in total resulted in 17 injuries and one death.

Drivers using Level 2 systems on their vehicles must remain fully engaged in the driving task. No automaker sells a vehicle to the public today that is self-driving.

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