California locations Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ beneath evaluate
By Tom KRISHER and STEFANIE DAZIO
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The California Department of Motor Vehicles is investigating whether Tesla is violating a state regulation by promoting its vehicles as fully autonomous without meeting the legal definition of self-driving.
The department confirmed the review in an email to The Associated Press on Monday. State regulation prohibits the advertising of vehicles for sale or rental as autonomous if they do not meet the regulatory definition.
Tesla is promoting the “Full Self-Driving” option valued at US $ 10,000 on its website for its electric vehicles. However, the same website states that the vehicles cannot drive themselves. CEO Elon Musk said he anticipates Tesla’s vehicles will be able to drive safer than humans at some point this year.
“The currently activated functions require active driver monitoring and do not make the vehicle autonomous,” says the website.
Tesla is testing its “full self-driving” software in the US in cars driven by select owners.
The company, based in Palo Alto, California, calls its partially automated driver assistance system “Autopilot”.
Tesla, which has closed its public relations department, didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday. first reported on the review of the DMV.
The DMV, which regulates testing of self-driving vehicles on California roads, said violating the ordinance could result in the suspension of autonomous vehicle permits and the revocation of a manufacturer’s license. It wouldn’t comment on the review any further, even at the beginning.
Tesla has DMV approval to test autonomous vehicles with human substitute drivers. But it is not one of those companies that are allowed to test without human drivers.
The company states that its software can navigate “full self-driving”, automatically change lanes and follow traffic lights and stop signs. With the “autopilot” a car can be kept in the middle of its lane and at a safe distance from the vehicles in front of it.
The probe has been caught in several high profile crashes across the country in the past few weeks, including a fatal wreck in California that involved autopilot.
A Tesla on autopilot plowed into a Snohomish County’s squad car north of Seattle, causing significant damage but no injuries.
A 35-year-old man was killed on May 5 when his Tesla Model 3 hit an overturned semi on a freeway east of Los Angeles at around 2:30 a.m.
The California Highway Patrol initially said their preliminary investigation found autopilot was “busy” prior to the crash, but returned to their testimony a day later. Investigators have “made no final decision as to which driving mode the Tesla was in or whether it contributed to the accident,” it said.
The victim had previously posted social media videos in which he was driving without hands on the steering wheel or foot on the pedal in the vehicle.
The DMV is investigating Tesla’s automated systems together with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the past, NHTSA has taken a hands-off approach to regulating partial and fully automated systems for fear of hampering the development of promising new features.
But since March the agency has intensified the investigation into Teslas and sent the teams to three crashes. It has investigated 28 Tesla accidents in the past few years, but has so far relied on voluntary safety compliance by auto and tech companies. At least three people were killed in US accidents that used autopilot, but neither the system nor the driver took any action to avoid obstacles.
Krisher reported from Detroit.