The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has completed a six-month investigation into a fatal accident involving a Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)'s vehicle equipped with a semi-autonomous Autopilot system.
In July, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report that detailed the circumstances of the fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S driving with its Autopilot engaged.
The NHTSA began investigating Tesla's Autopilot system a year ago after a 2015 Model S collided with a tractor-trailer that crossed a divided highway in Florida.
Both the NHTSA and Tesla have shared data that shows that the driver did not take control of the vehicle ahead of its collision with the tractor trailer.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that Tesla is targeting a 90% crash reduction as the software matures.
Report highlight: "The data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by nearly 40 percent after Autosteer installation". It turns out that installing Tesla Autopilot software can reduce your chance of being in a auto crash by as much as 40 per cent.
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Thomas said NHTSA wants to encourage innovation "to get the best answer to how we use these automated systems to the best effect and saving the most lives". According to International Business Times, the German government has also been critical of term "Autopilot" and reportedly asked Tesla to stop using it, saying it is "misleading." When news of the crash first broke, the incident received considerable attention and raised questions about the safety and reliability of Tesla' autonomous driving software.
Changes made to Autopilot system followed the company's announcement of fully autonomous hardware being installed in all new Tesla vehicles manufactured starting in late October 2016. An acknowledgement box notifies drivers that the system "is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times", and that "you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle" while using it.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk praised the decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which not only put the responsibility for the deadly Autopilot accident a year ago primarily on the driver but also did not order a recall.
A precursor to Tesla's fully autonomous technology, now in development, Autopilot would have faced a recall if the report had found it defective.
"The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that no safety-related defect exists", the report says.
Although the NHTSA probe was looking for defects in the system, the more serious concern was that Tesla was giving its drivers too much confidence in a system that still requires constant driver attention.