Tesla Self-Driving and Unintended Acceleration Not The Same Says NHTSA

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Tesla vehicles that drive themselves and those that continue unintentionally are not the same, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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In a ruling sure to satisfy Teslaphiles and Muskovites, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) concluded today that after reviewing the data, ODI has no evidence that supports opening a defect investigation into sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) in Teslas. In every instance in which data was available for review by ODI, the evidence shows that crashes in the complaints have been caused by pedal misapplication. There is no evidence of any fault in the accelerator pedal assemblies, motor control systems, or brake systems that has contributed to any of the incidents. There is no evidence of a design factor contributing to pedal misapplication. The theory of a potential electronic cause of SUA is based upon inaccurate assumptions about system design and log data. 

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On December 19, 2019, NHTSA received a petition requesting that the agency recall all Tesla Model S, Model X, and Model 3 vehicles produced from 2013 to the present due to SUA. In this petition, 232 complaints were brought to NHTSA’s attention, including 203 crashes. On January 13, 2020, NHTSA’s ODI opened Defect Petition DP20-001 to evaluate the request. ODI’s evaluation included reviews of all complaints and supporting information, as well as 14 additional complaints to NHTSA related to SUA allegations not previously submitted. The review included crash data (EDR, Tesla log data, video data) the agency acquired as part of the evaluation. 

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Since the information was not indicative of a vehicle-based defect, it is unlikely that any investigation would result in an order concerning the notification and remedy of a safety-related defect. Upon full consideration of the information presented in the petition and the potential risks to safety, the petition was denied. The denial of the petition does not foreclose the agency from taking further action if warranted, or the potential for a future finding that a safety-related defect exists, based upon additional information. 

Now if they can just get Tesla owners to realize Autopilot isn’t autonomous driving, and to keep their eyes on the road.

[Images: Tesla]

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