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Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist system gets closer look after recent changes

DETROIT (AP) – United States (US) automobile safety regulators are zeroing in on changes that Tesla has made to its Autopilot partially automated driving system, including how it makes sure drivers pay attention and how it detects and responds to objects.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asked for details of changes made to all versions of the system including dates and detailed descriptions, according to a post on its site yesterday.

The request is part of a larger investigation into why Teslas operating on Autopilot have struck emergency vehicles that are stopped along highways while they are responding to other incidents. It covers all versions of automated driving system including “Full Self-Driving”, which is being tested on public roads by Tesla owners.

The agency has been investigating crashes involving Teslas using the system since August of 2021. Investigators have sent teams to probe more than 30 crashes since 2016 that have caused at least 14 deaths.

In a letter dated July 3 and posted on the agency’s website yesterday, NHTSA asks Tesla to describe all changes to the systems in the “design, material composition, manufacture, quality control, supply, function, or installation of the subject system, from the start of production to date”.

Tesla must respond to the request by July 19, or it could face civil penalties, the letter states.

Tesla vehicles charge at a station in Emeryville, California in the United States. PHOTO: AP