U.S. safety regulators on Tuesday 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.
The new order comes amid increased scrutiny of such systems, especially Tesla Inc’s Autopilot system, reports Reuters.
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 Tuesday’s statement.
“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 centering 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 Co, Toyota Motor Corp and Volvo Cars.
Tesla’s Autopilot system, which handles some driving tasks, was operating in at least three Tesla vehicles involved in fatal U.S. crashes since 2016, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has said.
The NTSB has criticized Tesla’s lack of system safeguards for Autopilot, which allows drivers to keep their hands off the wheel for extended periods.
The issue received new attention after a fiery April 17 Texas crash that 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 U.S. 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.
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