NHTSA Wants Answers About Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta

The Tesla Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta program was recently released to Tesla owners that signed up for the over-the-air software update. The software is meant to enhance Tesla’s Autopilot system and upgrade the EV’s autonomous driving capabilities. Some tweaks needed to be made to the Tesla Full Self-Driving program, and now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking for answers.

The NHTSA wants more information about the Tesla Full Self-Driving beta

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) logo. The NHTSA is requesting information from Tesla about the Tesla Full Self-Driving beta program
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) logo | NHTSA

The NHTSA is requesting information about the Tesla Full Self-Driving beta program from the automaker and wants to know if it will recall cars that needed updates. Specifically, Tesla sent over-the-air updates to the FSD program so that its vehicles could better detect emergency vehicles.

The NHTSA says that if Tesla does not respond to its requests by November 1st, 2021, the automaker will face fines of almost $115 million.

According to a report from Automotive News, the NHTSA sent a letter to Tesla on Tuesday, October 12th, 2021, requesting information about the company’s release of the Full Self-Driving beta request menu option sent out earlier this month. The government agency is also looking for information regarding the previously mentioned update to allow Autopilot to recognize emergency vehicles more easily.

The NHTSA says that Tesla should have filed a recall notice

A Tesla Model S in blue
Tesla Model S | Tesla Motors

“Any manufacturer issuing an over-the-air update that mitigates a defect that poses an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety is required to timely file an accompanying recall notice to NHTSA,” wrote Gregory Magno, chief of the vehicle defects division at NHTSA. Magno sent what he wrote to Eddie Gates, Tesla’s director of field quality.

As part of the request for information, the NHTSA is also asking for a timeline of events and any “internal investigations” that lead to Tesla sending out the update. The organization also wants a list of vehicles in the Tesla Full Self-Driving beta program that received the update mentioned above. Furthermore, the safety agency wants to know if Tesla intends to file a safety recall for the updated vehicles.

Finally, the NHTSA wants a report from the automaker assessing if there would have been any changes to the timing or outcome of 12 accidents involving Tesla Autopilot if the update had been deployed.

Tesla was already under investigation over Autopilot crash

There have been several accidents involving Tesla’s in which investigators suspected that Autopilot may have been a factor. There was a recent incident in Florida in which a Tesla Model 3 hit a tree that the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating over possible Autopilot involvement.

The NHTSA’s investigation is focused on several incidents in which Tesla vehicles hit emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks while Autopilot was active. If those incidents were the cause of the Tesla Full Self-Driving update, but the automaker failed to issue a recall, they will have some explaining to do.

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