Ahead of the results of a formal investigation being undertaken by the NHTSA into Tesla's Autopilot, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has led the way in taking action.
The regulator urged Tesla to address safety concerns associated with its vehicles already before expanding its self-driving features further, Bloomberg reported this weekend.
Jennifer Homendy, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said: “Basic safety issues have to be addressed before they then expand it to other city streets and other areas.”
Homendy continued, arguing that the term ‘full self-driving’ was “misleading and irresponsible," according to Bloomberg. It's easily one of the boldest critical statements by a meaningful regulator about the "product" since its inception.
The NTSB is primarily tasked with investigating crashes and issuing safety recommendations, but the agency doesn't have any regulatory authority. That means that in terms of forcing action from Tesla, the NHTSA's investigation may wind up being more material in nature.
However, the NTSB has been far more critical of Tesla over the last few years than the NHTSA has been. So far, the NHTSA has failed to follow the NTSB's lead. Time will tell as to whether or not the NHTSA's "formal" investigation could signal a shift of sentiment.
Recall, last month we reported that regulators at the NHTSA in the United States had finally come to their senses and opened the long-overdue investigation. The NHTSA said the investigation includes Tesla's Model X, S and 3 for model years 2014-2021. The broad range of models and model years means that this could be the large-scale investigation that skeptics have been requesting for years, we noted.
The NHTSA said the investigation would assess technologies, methods "used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver's engagement" during autopilot operation, according to Bloomberg.