Federal regulators find no defect in Tesla Autopilot probe

Federal regulators find no defect in Tesla Autopilot probe
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Federal regulators "did not identify any defects" in Tesla's autopilot feature after a lengthy investigation of the technology, officials announced Thursday.

A six-month investigation failed to uncover any flaws with the autopilot's emergency breaking technology and other advanced features linked to a deadly accident last year, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report released Thursday.

"NHTSA’s examination did not identify any defects in design or performance of the AEB or Autopilot systems of the subject vehicles nor any incidents in which the systems did not perform as designed," the NHTSA report said.

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NHTSA officials indicated they would not seek a recall of Tesla's other vehicles equipped with the autopilot feature after investigating a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S last year.

Data from the vehicle indicated that Joshua Brown, who was killed after his Tesla Model S collided with an 18-wheel tractor trailer that cut in front of him on a highway in Florida last year, took "no braking, steering or other actions to avoid the collision," according to the report.

"A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted. Accordingly, this investigation is closed," the agency said.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk welcomed the findings of the probe, highlighting NHTSA observation that the company's Autosteer feature decreased Tesla vehicles crash rate "by almost 40 percent."

"Report highlight: 'The data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation,'" Musk tweeted.

The NHTSA said it will continue to monitor other potential issues related to Tesla vehicles and "reserves the right to take future action" against the automaker "if warranted by the circumstances."
 
Nonprofit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog blasted NHTSA's report Thursday, accusing the agency of wrongly accepting "Tesla’s line" rather than blaming "the ‘Autopilot’ technology and Tesla’s aggressive marketing.”
 
“NHTSA has wrongly accepted Tesla’s line and blamed the human, rather than the ‘Autopilot’ technology and Tesla’s aggressive marketing” Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director John Simpson said in a statement.
 
“The very name ‘Autopilot’ creates the impression that a Tesla can drive itself. It can’t. Some people who apparently believed Tesla’s hype got killed. Tesla CEO Elon Musk should have been held accountable,” Simpson added.
 
Consumer Watchdog has been critical of Tesla's Autopilot feature and, demanding a recall of the technology in December.
 
- Updated at 5:01 p.m.