NHTSA report shows Tesla Autopilot led the pack in crashes, but the data has gaps – TechCrunch

On the face of it, data from the first year of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration The project to monitor the safety of advanced driver assistance systems looks terrible for Tesla. Its electric vehicles were involved in 70% of reported accidents involving Level 2 technology, 60% of which resulted in serious injuries and almost 85% of deaths.

The data released early Wednesday was collected under the federal regulator’s Permanent Joint Order issued last June, requiring automakers to report the most serious crashes involving ADAS Level 2, which requires the driver to be fully involved in the driving duties. NHTSA is also monitoring collisions involving fully autonomous vehicles – none of which are currently available to consumers.

There are five levels of automation according to standards created by SAE International. Level 2 means that two functions such as adaptive cruise and lane keeping are automated and the driver remains in the loop at all times. Level 2 is an advanced driver assistance system and is becoming increasingly common in new vehicles.

Tesla tops the ADAS list for all the wrong reasons: 273 crashes reported, 3 serious injuries, and 5 deaths. Honda is behind Tesla with 90 crashes and one death, while most other manufacturers report only a handful. Nissan did not report anything.

So does that mean Tesla owners should trade in their Model 3 with Autopilot for a Nissan Leaf, and its own Level 2 ADAS, called ProPilot?

It’s a more complicated question than one might think. Way Orders are word of mouthThe technologies Tesla has deployed and the sheer number of Tesla vehicles on the road mean their vehicles may not be quite as dangerous as the numbers suggest.

First, there are more ADAS-equipped Teslas on the road (about 830,000) than cars from other manufacturers, although Nissan isn’t far behind, at 560,000.

Tesla’s Autopilot can also be used on a variety of roads, unlike Nissan’s ProPilot and GM’s SuperCruise systems, which are limited to highways. Without knowing the mileage driven with each active ADAS system and where, it is not possible to compare their relative safety – or how each system might be contrasted with the accident rate under control. complete human control.

The order requires manufacturers to report all incidents they are aware of, but most vehicles on the road do not have telematics systems to send vehicle data back to the factory. The makers of these vehicles are dependent on consumer complaints (which account for the majority of reports), law enforcement contacts or media stories, all of which may not be reported. exactly whether their ADAS system is in use.

On the other hand, Tesla knows exactly which vehicles are using Autopilot when they crash, as their vehicles have cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity to automatically report vehicle data in the event of an accident. Almost all of its crash reports were obtained from such telematics, compared with just 9 from Subaru, 4 from GM, 3 from Lucid and one from Honda.

Finally, the Order requires manufacturers to include data on known problems starting 10 days after the Order was delivered last June. In the case of Tesla, that apparently includes crashes stretching back to 2019, including three out of five fatal crashes and all three fatal crashes. (It’s not clear why Tesla was only notified of those crashes months or years after they happened.) Aside from Tesla, only Honda has reported a few crashes since before June 2021.

While all of these variables seem to point in the same direction – relatively over-reporting of Tesla’s crash data and less-reporting of crashes involving other automakers – Their impact cannot be quantified from NHTSA data alone. Perhaps all Level 2 systems are more dangerous than human drivers, due to the driver’s inattentiveness. Or it could be the case that Tesla’s Autopilot, when deployed in practice, is less effective and dangerous than rival ADAS technologies.

“The data released today is a good start, but it doesn’t provide a bold comparison of vehicle safety,” said National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy. advanced communication. “What NHTSA provides is a data ‘bowl’ with a lot of warning information, making it difficult for the public as well as experts to understand what is being reported. Independent analysis of the data is key to identifying any security holes and potential remedial measures. ”

Final words on Autopilot will have to wait for NHTSA’s Separate, ongoing and recently expanded investigation into Autopilot, which may result in a recall. In the meantime, drivers with a Level 2 system in their car will be advised to heed NHTSA advice – “no motor vehicle on the market today is capable of autonomous driving”.

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