US government launches formal probe into Tesla Autopilot

Car driving with GPS
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The US government has launched a formal investigation into Tesla's Autopilot system after a series of collisions with parked emergency vehicles

The investigation will cover nearly all Tesla vehicles sold in the US since 2014, totaling roughly 765,000 cars. The investigation will cover Tesla's current lineup, including the Model Y, X, S and 3 - which were all released between 2014 and 2021.

Crashes identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which resulted in a total of 17 injuries and one death, will also form a part of the investigation. NHTSA has identified 11 crashes since 2018 where a Tesla vehicle with either its Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control activated had hit a first responder vehicle.

"Most incidents took place after dark and the crash scenes encountered included scene control measures such as first responder vehicle lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board, and road cones," the agency said in a court filing.

"The involved subject vehicles were all confirmed to have been engaged in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control during the approach to the crashes."


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There are now calls from the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) for a limit to be placee on the use of Tesla's Autopilot system. This has also come with a recommendation that Tesla improves the system to make sure drivers are paying attention.

Autopilot, which is a limited driver-assistance system, has been widely cited as the cause of a number of Tesla vehicle crashes, with driver misuse often named as the reason. However, more recent reports have suggested that the system itself is faulty; in April, two men died in a Tesla that crashed into a tree and caught fire. Initial police reports suggested that neither man appeared to be in the driving seat, leading to suggestions that it was the Autopilot that caused the crash.

In the UK, five children and an adult were taken to hospital on Monday after their Tesla Model 3 crashed into a school car park, according to the Telegraph. It is currently unclear whether the Autopilot was engaged, and IT Pro has yet to respond to IT Pro's request for comment.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.