The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will require data from driver assistants from twelve auto companies. This, with the purpose of contributing to the research around the Autopilot function, the semi-autonomous assisted driving system of the Tesla company.
According to the US media Auto News, the NHTSA sent applications to several companies that make cars, including Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen, Stellantis, Subaru, Nissan and Honda. These should provide information on the number of automobiles with a level 2 autonomy system manufactured in the country, as well as the total number of distance traveled by these units. They will also release customer complaints and crash and accident reports.
In August 2021, this US security agency launched an investigation around Elon Musk’s company and about 765 thousand model Y, X, and S cars of this brand launched between 2014 and 2021. The NHTSA will focus on 12 crashes that involved the autopilot system, which have left a balance of 17 people injured and one fatality since 2018.
It should be clarified, according to the Society of Automotive Engineers, there are 6 different levels of autonomy in driving assistance systems. This begins with zero, which implies a completely manual operation of the vehicle; up to level 5, which involves full automation of driving and does not require human interaction. Tier 2 systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot, require human observation and only feature assistance in steering and acceleration of the car.
The Tesla company, owned by Elon Musk, has October 22, 2021 as the limit to deliver this data, companies from the United States until November 3, 2021 and foreign companies until November 17 of that year. Companies could face a fine of up to $ 115 million for violating this mandate.
In today’s automotive market, Tesla is one of the companies that has most strongly promoted assisted driving technology to the consumer. As such, the recent level of scrutiny directed at the Autopilot system could have significant consequences for the business model of Elon Musk’s company. The NHTSA investigation could point to several problems. These, related to failures both in the Autopilot design and in communication with customers regarding the operation of the systems and the level of interaction required.