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NHTSA ODI opens preliminary evaluation of Tesla Autopilot following 11 crashes at first responder scenes

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has opened a Preliminary Evaluation of the SAE Level 2 ADAS system (Autopilot) in the Tesla Model Year 2014-2021 Models Y, X, S, and 3.

The investigation will assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation. The investigation will additionally assess the Object and Event Detection and Response (OEDR) by vehicles when engaged in Autopilot mode, and Operational Design Domain (ODD) in which the Autopilot mode is functional.

The investigation will also include examination of the contributing circumstances for confirmed crashes and other similar crashes.

Since January 2018, ODI has identified eleven crashes in which Tesla models of various configurations have encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes.

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

Autopilot is an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) in which the vehicle maintains its speed and lane centering when engaged within its ODD. With the ADAS active, the driver still holds primary responsibility for OEDR, e.g., identification of obstacles in the roadway or adverse maneuvers by neighboring vehicles during the Dynamic Driving Task (DDT).

The eleven crashes of concern to ODI are:

Date City/County State
07/10/2021 San Diego CA
05/19/2021 Miami FL
03/17/2021 Lansing MI
02/27/2021 Montgomery County TX
08/26/2020 Charlotte NC
07/30/2020 Cochise County AZ
01/22/2020 West Bridgewater MA
12/29/2019 Cloverdale IN
12/10/2019 Norwalk CT
05/29/2018 Laguna Beach CA
01/22/2018 Culver City CA

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