Will the company comply?
Despite Tesla's long list of successes, the carmaker has suffered plenty of controversies. Following several incidents, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the Autopilot driver-assist system. There's clearly a problem with the technology with users crashing into emergency vehicles parked on the side of the road with their flashers turned on. All Tesla vehicles, including the latest Model S Plaid, were affected. Today, the US government has another demand for Tesla and we doubt the company will comply without a fight.
According to the Associated Press, the head of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Jennifer Homendy, sent a letter to Elon Musk earlier this week requesting for Tesla to enact recommendations to limit where Autopilot can operate and to add a feature to ensure drivers are paying attention.
Thing is, those recommendations were issued to Tesla four years ago. They've ignored them ever since. Homendy further drove home her agency's Autopilot safety demands following the rollout of Full Self-Driving to customers. The even more advanced driver-assist system suffered a minor blow a few days ago when the latest update was rolled back following safety issues.
Basically, the feds are frustrated with Tesla's decision to release FSD before it has resolved Autopilot-related issues. The fact that it's ignored recommendations for years is all the more troubling. "If you are serious about putting safety front and center in Tesla vehicle design, I invite you to complete action on the safety recommendations we issued to you four years ago," Homendy wrote.
"It's crucial that such technology is implemented with the safety of all road users foremost in mind." Tesla has not completely ignored the agency. In fact, Homendy acknowledged her agency appreciates the automaker's cooperation as it investigates fatal crashes in Florida and Texas. The 2016 Florida crash, it should be pointed out, involved the driver engaging Autopilot on roads where the system wasn't designed to safely operate. The NTSB further determined the technology did not properly monitor the driver. The guy wasn't paying attention.
The agency still hasn't received a separate response from Tesla from its request in August as to how Autopilot detects a crash scene with flashing lights, road flares, and even reflective vests.