US Justice Department Requests Tesla Self-Driving Documents

Image credit: Tesla

Tesla says US Justice Department has requested document related to Autopilot and ‘Full Self-Driving’ systems amidst regulatory scrutiny

Tesla has disclosed a US Department of Justice subpoena for documents related to its Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving” features, amidst increasing regulatory scrutiny of the company.

The electric carmaker said in a Tuesday regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that to its knowledge “no government agency in any ongoing investigation has concluded that any wrongdoing occurred”.

But it acknowledged that a government enforcement action could possibly have a material adverse impact on its business.

Tesla already faces multiple investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) involving the two driver-assist systems.

‘Full Self-Driving’

Tesla acknowledges that the systems, including “Full Self-Driving”, cannot operate without a human behind the wheel – in spite of the latter system’s official name.

The NHTSA began investigating the systems in June 2016 after a driver using Autopilot was killed after his Tesla vehicle went under a tractor-trailer crossing its path in Florida, shearing the top off the car.

A separate probe into Autopilot began in August 2021 involving Teslas using the system crashed into emergency vehicles.

At least 14 Teslas have crashed into emergency vehicles while using Autopilot.

The NHTSA has sent investigators to 35 Tesla crashes in which the driver-assist systems were suspected to have been used, in which nineteen people have died, including two motorcyclists.

Fatal crashes

The Department of Justice began a probe of its own into Tesla in 2021 involving more than a dozen crashes, some of them fatal, involving Autopilot, according to a Reuters report in October that cited unnamed sources.

Autopilot is designed to assist with steering, braking and speed and lane changes.

It currently requires active driver supervision, although Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has repeatedly claimed the cars will soon offer full autonomy.

The separate “Full Self-Driving” system sells for an additional $15,000 (£12,100) activation fee and enables functions such as autonomous lane changes and parking.