Since June 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has dispatched special investigation teams to 31 accidents involving some automated driving assistance systems, and subsequently issued the directive.
The US government’s highway safety agency has ordered automakers to report any collisions involving fully autonomous vehicles or partially automated driving assistance systems.
The actions of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Tuesday showed that the agency has taken a tougher stance on the safety of autonomous vehicles than in the past. It has been reluctant to issue any new technical regulations for fear of hindering the adoption of potentially life-saving systems.
The order requires vehicle and equipment manufacturers and companies that operate vehicles to report collisions that occur on public roads involving fully automated vehicles, or on roads where driver assistance systems are operating before or during the collision.
NHTSA Acting Director Steven Cliff said in a statement: “By mandatory reporting of incidents, the agency will have access to critical data, which will help quickly identify possible safety issues in these automated systems.”
The agency said it will look for potential safety flaws, and this information may lead it to dispatch a collision investigation team or launch a flaw investigation.
Since June 2016, NHTSA has sent a special investigation team to investigate 31 car accidents involving semi-autonomous driving assistance systems. Such systems can keep the vehicle in the center of the lane and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. According to data released by the agency, 25 of these accidents involved Tesla’s autopilot system, and 10 deaths were reported in the accident.
Tesla and other manufacturers warn that drivers using these systems must be ready to intervene at any time.The Tesla vehicles using this system had an accident because they failed to stop when there were semi-trailers, emergency vehicles and road obstacles in front of them
The agency is also investigating non-fatal accidents involving partial automation systems in Lexus RX 450h, Volvo XC-90 and two Cadillac CT6s. In addition, the team also investigated a collision involving an autonomous Navya Arma low-speed shuttle and another Volvo XC90 operated by Uber, in which a pedestrian was killed in Arizona.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also investigated some of Tesla’s accidents and recommended that NHTSA and Tesla restrict the use of Autopilot to areas where it can be operated safely. The NTSB also recommended that NHTSA require Tesla to have a better system to ensure the driver’s attention. NHTSA has not yet taken action on any recommendations.
Jason Levine, executive director of the advocacy organization’s non-profit Automotive Safety Center, said that accident reporting is a welcome first step for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For many years, the center has asked the agency to supervise self-driving cars.
“Collecting collision data, and the collision data you want to avoid, can help achieve a variety of purposes, from enforcing current laws to ensuring consumer safety, and paving the way for the development of reasonable regulations to encourage the deployment of safe advanced vehicles,” Levin said Said in an email.
If it involves hospital-treated injuries, deaths, airbag deployment, pedestrians or cyclists, or is severe enough to tow the vehicle away, the company must report an accident involving fully automated or partially autonomous vehicles within one day of learning.
Other collisions involving vehicles equipped with this system and involving injury or property damage must be reported monthly. This requirement does not apply to consumers who own vehicles or car dealers.
NHTSA said in a statement that the data can show whether there is a common pattern involving system crashes.