A Tesla Model S car equipped with Autopilot
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A federal agency is calling for tougher requirements on testing autonomous driving, and the proposed changes could eventually force Tesla to change how it rolls out features to customers.
The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for stronger federal requirements for the design and use of automated driving systems on public roads. In a letter to its sister agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, dated last month and not yet reported on, NTSB chief Robert Sumwalt named Tesla 16 times in calling for sweeping change.
“Tesla recently released a beta version of its Level 2 Autopilot system, described as having full self-driving capability. By releasing the system, Tesla is testing on public roads a highly automated AV technology but with limited oversight or reporting requirements,” Sumwalt wrote. “NHTSA’s hands-off approach to oversight of AV testing poses a potential risk to motorists and other road users.”
While both the NTSB and NHTSA are vehicle safety watchdogs in the U.S. government, their roles are distinct.
The NTSB investigates accidents to determine underlying causes of damaging incidents, including fatal Tesla crashes involving Autopilot in Mountain View, California, in March 2018 and Del Ray Beach, Florida, in March 2019. The board also makes safety recommendations to regulators and the auto industry.
It’s up to its sister agency, the NHTSA, to mandate…