We wouldn't want to be Elon Musk right now.
Despite what the name suggests, Tesla's Full Self-Driving Capability is not a fully self-driving system. We're still a very long way away from fully autonomous driving tech becoming a reality. Fully autonomous driving systems are classed as Level 5, but Tesla's Full Self-Driving is still only Level 2, requiring drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and always be attentive. There are plenty of videos of near misses online that demonstrate why Tesla's Full Self-Driving is only in beta because the system is far from foolproof.
Unfortunately, many people still misunderstand the Autopilot system's capabilities, resulting in a spate of crashes. Last month, this prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to launch a formal investigation into Tesla's Autopilot.
In an 11-page letter sent to Tesla, the NHTSA is demanding Tesla supply comprehensive information about how its Autopilot system responds to emergency vehicles by October 22nd. As part of the investigation, the NHTSA wants to know how a Tesla detects a crash scene with emergency responders from factors such as flashing lights, road flares, reflective vests worn by responders, and parked vehicles. The government agency also wants to know how low light conditions affect Autopilot and how the semi-autonomous driving system warns drivers to prevent an accident.
Tesla is under serious pressure because the data request isn't limited to models involved in the accidents under investigation: the NHTSA is requesting data for 765,000 Tesla cars built between 2014 and 2021.
We wouldn't want to be Elon Musk right now. Originally, the NHTSA was investigating 11 accidents involving Teslas crashing into other cars at a scene with emergency responders. Combined, these accidents caused 17 injuries and one death. Now, a 12th accident has been added to the investigation involving a Tesla Model 3 that crashed into a police car in Orlando, Florida late last month.
After nearly hitting a police officer, the driver told police she was using Autopilot. The investigation will determine if Tesla's Autopilot system caused or contributed to the 12 crashes being assessed. Tesla previously pledged its full cooperation with the feds' investigation and soon it'll have to provide some answers.