The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked 12 major automakers for information about the advanced driver aids systems in their vehicles. This, the administration made clear, is part of its investigation into crashes involving Tesla’s driver aids.
According to Reuters, the NHTSA sent letters out to GM, Toyota, Ford, VW, and others as it conducts a “comparative analysis” with other “production vehicles equipped with the ability to control both steering and braking/acceleration simultaneously under some circumstances.”
The automakers are asked to provide information about crashes in which driver assistance systems were engaged at “anytime during the period beginning 30 seconds immediately prior to the commencement of the crash.”
The agency is also looking for information about how these automakers and their advanced driver aids ensure that drivers pay attention and how they detect if they are engaged. It is also interested in the systems’ “strategies for detecting and responding to the presence of first responders/law enforcement vehicles.”
This follows NHTSA’s decision to open a formal safety probe into Tesla in August after 12 crashes with emergency vehicles in which the automaker’s Autopilot advanced driver assist system was involved.
Tesla has been criticized for the way it promotes its advanced driver aids. Names like “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” have been accused of promising more than what the Level 2 and Level 2+ systems are capable of delivering, leading users to overestimate them and doing all kinds of dangerous things, like taking naps in the driver’s seat or leaving it altogether.
Car and Driver, though, pointed out that a number of other automakers’ advanced driver aids can also be gamed and misused, most to a dangerous degree. The NHTSA investigation could reveal whether Tesla’s driver aid issues are unique to it or part of an industry-wide problem that Tesla simply gets all the bad press for.