What Will Come Out Of NHTSA’s Tesla Autopilot Investigation?

More than five years after the death of Joshua Brown, we are finally beginning to see signs of life at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The top half of Brown’s Tesla Model S was sliced off when it ran under a tractor trailer while Brown was inattentive. There have been dozens of known crashes in the years since where Tesla’s AutoPilot advanced driver assist system (ADAS) system was active and likely many more where it was engaged shortly before a crash. Until recently NHTSA has remained strangely silent. While Elaine Chao was secretary of transportation, the agency did nothing in response to repeated recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). A few weeks ago, the agency issued an order for all companies developing or deploying partially or highly automated driving systems to report all crashes and now it has opened a formal investigation into Teslas TSLA +0.6% slamming into parked emergency vehicles.