PALO ALTO (CBS / AP) – The California Department of Motor Vehicles is examining whether Tesla is violating state regulations by advertising its vehicles as fully autonomous without meeting the legal definition of autonomous driving.
The department confirmed the review Monday in an email to The Associated Press. State regulations prohibit the advertising of vehicles for sale or lease as autonomous if they cannot comply with the regulatory definition, he said.
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Tesla is announcing a $ 10,000 “full autonomous driving” option on the website for its electric vehicles, but the same website says the vehicles cannot drive on their own. CEO Elon Musk said he expects Tesla’s vehicles to be able to behave more safely than humans this year.
“The currently activated features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,” the website says.
Tesla is testing its “Full Self-Driving” software in the United States on cars driven by selected owners.
The Palo Alto-based company also calls its partially automated driver assistance system “Autopilot”.
Tesla, which disbanded its public relations department, did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. The Los Angeles Times first reported the DMV review.
The DMV, which regulates autonomous vehicle testing on California roads, said violating the regulations could result in the suspension of autonomous vehicle licenses and the revocation of a manufacturer’s license. He would not comment further on the review, including when it started.
Tesla has a DMV license to test autonomous vehicles with human emergency drivers. But he is not one of the companies allowed to test without a human driver.
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The company says its “Full Self-Driving” software can navigate, automatically change lanes and follow traffic lights and stop signs. “Autopilot” can keep a car centered in its lane and a safe distance from vehicles in front of it.
The probe comes amid several high-profile crashes across the country – including a fatal wreck in California – involving Autopilot in recent weeks.
A 35-year-old man was killed on May 5 in Fontana, Calif., When his Tesla Model 3 struck an overturned semi-trailer on a freeway east of Los Angeles at around 2:30 a.m.
The California Highway Patrol first said its preliminary investigation found the autopilot “was engaged” before the crash, but backed down a day later. Investigators did not make “a final decision as to how Tesla was to drive or whether this was a contributing factor to the crash,” he said.
The victim, Steven Michael Hendrickson, had previously posted videos on social media of himself riding in the vehicle with no hands on the steering wheel or one foot on the pedal.
The DMV joins the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate Tesla’s automated systems. In the past, NHTSA has taken a hands-on approach to regulating partial and fully automated systems for fear of hampering the development of promising new features.
But since March, the agency has stepped up its investigations into Teslas, dispatching teams to three crashes. It has investigated 28 Tesla accidents in recent years, but so far has relied on voluntary safety compliance from auto and tech companies. At least three people have been killed in crashes in the United States in which Autopilot was operating, but neither the system nor the driver took action to avoid the obstacles.
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