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After opening an investigation to assess the performance of Tesla's Autopilot system in August 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has upgraded its probe to an engineering analysis.
According to the regulator, the engineering analysis will evaluate additional data sets, perform vehicle evaluations, and "explore the degree to which Autopilot and associated Tesla systems may exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks by undermining the effectiveness of the driver’s supervision."
An engineering analysis is the final stage of an investigation, and in most cases NHTSA decides within a year if there should be a recall or the probe should be closed. The probe now covers an estimated 830,000 vehicles, which includes all Y, S, X and 3 vehicle models sold since 2014.
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The NHTSA's preliminary investigation was motivated by "an accumulation of crashes in which Tesla vehicles, operating with Autopilot engaged, struck stationary in-road or roadside first responder vehicles tending to pre-existing collision scenes," according to a document posted to its website.
It also evaluated similar circumstance crashes of Teslas operating with Autopilot engaged, as well as the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist and enforce the driver’s engagement during Autopilot operation.