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US Requests Details from Tesla Regarding Development and Validation of Autopilot Recall Efficacy

Federal highway safety investigators are seeking detailed insights from Tesla regarding the development and implementation of the remedy in a recall affecting over 2 million vehicles equipped with the Autopilot partially automated driving system.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expressed concerns regarding the efficacy of the recall remedy following reports of 20 crashes post the implementation of the software update in December, which was intended to address the issue.

In a letter addressed to Tesla and posted on the agency’s website, investigators indicated their inability to discern any notable difference in driver warnings before and after the recall, prompting a review of the adequacy of these alerts, particularly in instances where the driver-monitoring camera is obscured.

The agency has requested comprehensive information on Tesla’s development process for the fix, specifically focusing on how human behavior was considered and tested in assessing the recall’s effectiveness.

Among the inquiries outlined in the 18-page letter are queries about Tesla’s utilization of human behavior science in Autopilot’s design, the roles involved in human behavior evaluation, and the qualifications of personnel. Additionally, the agency seeks clarity on the continued existence of these roles within the company.

Tesla, currently undergoing a workforce reduction of approximately 10%, is urged to address these inquiries amid CEO Elon Musk’s assertions that the company is transitioning into an artificial intelligence and robotics entity.

NHTSA intends to scrutinize the design and accessibility of Autopilot controls to mitigate misuse, confusion, and deployment in unsuitable scenarios. It was highlighted that Tesla permits owners to opt in or reverse parts of the recall remedy, a point of contention for safety advocates who have long questioned Autopilot’s suitability for varied road conditions.

Despite its name, Tesla emphasizes that Autopilot does not enable fully autonomous driving and necessitates driver readiness for intervention at all times.

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