Tesla in January (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc report CEO Elon Musk has promised that the company’s vehicles will be self-driving by the end of the year.
“I’d be shocked if we couldn’t achieve fully autonomous driving that’s safer than humans this year. I’d be shocked,” Musk said on Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call.
“Being safer than humans is a low bar, not a high bar. People are constantly distracted, tired, texting. … We don’t have more accidents, which is remarkable,” he stressed.
In other words, by the end of the year, owners of Tesla vehicles will have a feature that enables their cars to drive themselves in any condition.
At the risk of dampening the enthusiasm of Tesla fans, there’s a good chance that their champ Musk’s schedule won’t be met again.
That’s because regulators, particularly the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are increasing their investigations into accidents involving Tesla vehicles, Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Assist.
Another accident involving a Tesla vehicle
NHTSA is opening a special crash investigation into the July 6 crash along Interstate 75 in Florida that killed two people, a person familiar with the matter told TheStreet.
A 2015 Tesla Model S exited Interstate 75, entered a rest area, and struck the back of a parked tractor-trailer.
Two 66-year-old women and 67-year-old men from Lompoc, California, were killed in the collision, local media reported.
The Florida Highway Patrol said: “For unknown reasons, the Tesla pulled into a parking lot and drove towards a trailer. The Tesla hit the back of the trailer and eventually came to a stop.”
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So far, NHTSA has not said whether any of Tesla’s driver assistance systems, Autopilot and FSD were active at the time of the crash.
Tesla, which has not had a communications unit since last year, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The crash was a blow to the automaker, with rivals on all sides determined to grab market share from it. The accident also adds to a long line of investigations now involving Tesla vehicles.
Tesla is working with NHTSA
In fact, NHTSA is investigating 37 crashes involving self-driving systems since 2016. Thirty of those involved Tesla, including 11 fatal crashes that resulted in a total of 15 deaths.
The agency also said in the filing that it was investigating a fatal pedestrian accident involving a Tesla Model 3 in California this month.
It also sent a team to investigate a minor-injury Cruise self-driving car accident in California in June.
Newly confirmed NHTSA administrator Steven Cliff recently told The Associated Press that the agency is stepping up efforts to understand the risks posed by self-driving car technology in order to decide what regulations might be needed to protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians. .
He also said that automated systems such as automatic emergency braking have huge potential to save lives.
Cliff added that Tesla has been working with NHTSA.
“I think we’ve worked very well with them,” the head of the regulator told The Associated Press. “When we found there was a risk, they’ve taken action, which is appropriate.”
In June, the federal agency released data from automakers and tech companies showing nearly 400 accidents involving vehicles equipped with partially automated driver-assistance systems in a 10-month period, 273 of which were related to Tesla .