The feds are investigating Tesla’s autopilot AGAIN — right here’s why

It’s exhausting to overlook the flashing lights of fireplace engines, ambulances, and police automobiles forward of you as you’re driving down the highway. However in a minimum of 11 instances up to now three and a half years, Tesla’s Autopilot superior driver-assistance system did simply that. This led to 11 accidents through which Teslas crashed into emergency automobiles or different automobiles at these scenes, leading to 17 accidents, and one demise.

The Nationwide Freeway Transportation Security Administration has launched an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system in response to the crashes. The incidents befell between January 2018 and July 2021 in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and Texas. The probe covers 765,000 Tesla automobiles – that’s nearly each automobile the corporate has made within the final seven years. It’s additionally not the primary time the federal authorities has investigated Tesla’s Autopilot.

As a researcher who research autonomous automobiles, I consider the investigation will put stress on Tesla to reevaluate the applied sciences the corporate makes use of in Autopilot and will affect the way forward for driver-assistance programs and autonomous automobiles.

How Tesla’s Autopilot works

Tesla’s Autopilot makes use of cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors to assist two main options: Visitors-Conscious Cruise Management and Autosteer.

Visitors-Conscious Cruise Management, often known as adaptive cruise management, maintains a protected distance between the automobile and different automobiles which might be driving forward of it. This know-how primarily makes use of cameras at the side of synthetic intelligence algorithms to detect surrounding objects resembling automobiles, pedestrians and cyclists, and estimate their distances. Autosteer makes use of cameras to detect clearly marked strains on the highway to maintain the automobile inside its lane.

Along with its Autopilot capabilities, Tesla has been providing what it calls “full self-driving” options that embody auto park and auto lane change. Since its first providing of the Autopilot system and different self-driving options, Tesla has persistently warned customers that these applied sciences require energetic driver supervision and that these options don’t make the automobile autonomous.