US safety regulators have issued an order requiring automakers and operators of vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance or automated driving systems to immediately report crashes, allowing the industry to spot issues faster, a media report said.
The new order comes amid increased scrutiny of such systems, especially Tesla’s Autopilot system, Reuters noted.
According to the news agency, The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) earlier this month said it had opened 30 investigations into Tesla crashes involving 10 deaths since 2016 where advanced driver assistance systems were suspected of being in use.
“By mandating crash reporting, the agency will have access to critical data that will help quickly identify safety issues that could emerge in these automated systems,” Steven Cliff, the NHTSA’s acting administrator, said in a statement cited by Reuters. “In fact, gathering data will help instill public confidence that the federal government is closely overseeing the safety of automated vehicles.”
Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are an increasingly common feature on many new vehicles, helping drivers with such features as lane centring assistance and adaptive cruise control. Vehicles with Level 3-5 automated driving systems (ADS) are not currently sold to consumers, but are in limited use on public roads around the country.
In addition to the Tesla crashes, NHTSA said it had opened investigations into six other crashes involving driver assistance systems from such automakers as General Motors, Toyota and Volvo Cars, Reuters added.
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Tesla’s Autopilot system, which handles some driving tasks, was operating in at least three Tesla vehicles involved in fatal US crashes since 2016, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has said. The NTSB has criticised Tesla’s lack of system safeguards for Autopilot which allows drivers to keep their hands off the wheel for extended periods.
Reuters said the issue received new attention after a fiery April 2021 Texas crash which killed two men in which police said they believed no one was behind the wheel. The NTSB said in May that testing suggested the vehicle’s automated steering system was “not available” on the road where the accident occurred.
Under the new NHTSA order, crashes that occur on public US roads must be reported within one day of learning of an incident if it involves an injury, death, airbag deployment or vehicle tow-away. The companies also must report any accident updates monthly to the agency.
The federal order requires vehicle and equipment manufacturers, including software companies, of Level 2 ADAS or Levels 3-5 ADS systems, and vehicles and operators of ADS-equipped vehicles to report crashes where those system were engaged during or immediately before the crash, Reuters added.