Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving programs are facing mounting pressure from many fronts as regulators and politicians are getting involved.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has famously launched 38 special investigations of crashes involving Tesla vehicles where it believes advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), under which both Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta program fall, could have been involved.

So far, these special investigations haven’t come up with much against Tesla. In fact, NHTSA is most often finding that the drivers involved were simply not paying attention – something that is required with all of Tesla’s ADAS.

But now there’s an investigation that has been progressing toward a recall.

Last year, NHTSA announced that it is launching an investigation into Tesla Autopilot after identifying 11 crashes involving first-responder vehicles.

In June 2022, NHTSA announced today that its investigation into Tesla Autopilot had been upgraded to an engineering analysis (EA) – a step closer to a possible recall.

Now after a few months without news about the investigation, US Senator Gary Peters and Representative Jan Schakowsky, both Democrats who chair subcommittees overseeing auto safety, have decided to send a letter to NHTSA to pressure them on the investigation:

Reuters reported on the letter:

The lawmakers asked “given the mounting number of fatalities involving Tesla vehicles crashing into tractor trailers … has NHTSA considered opening a defect investigation into this issue?”

The letter added “does NHTSA strike a balance between investigative thoroughness and addressing urgent, emerging risks to motor vehicle safety?” and if the agency has enough resources and legal authority to properly investigate advanced driver assistance systems.

Simultaneously, former presidential candidate Ralph Nader released a public letter calling for NHTSA to remove FSD Beta from Tesla vehicles:

I am calling on federal regulators to act immediately to prevent the growing deaths and injuries from Tesla manslaughtering crashes with this technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to act swiftly to prevent such disasters. NHTSA has been investigating Tesla and its Full Self-Driving technology for several years. NHTSA must use its safety recall authority to order that the FSD technology be removed in every Tesla.

Coincidently, or not, those new efforts to pressure regulators to shut down Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta comes after Dan O’Dowd released a new ad attacking Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta.

The ad has been running on national TV all week:

However, as we reported earlier this week, there are some serious problems with the tests that led to this ad.

Nonetheless, it appears to have successfully influenced politicians to mount the pressure on NHTSA to act on Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD Beta.

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Fred Lambert

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