Reuters reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into Tesla Inc. and its Autopilot advanced driving assistance system.
Although it has been underway for over a year, the public has not been made aware of the investigation’s existence until now. People who know the situation say the DOJ launched its probe after a slew of fatalities and injuries caused by vehicles operating in Autopilot mode. Many lives were lost in the accidents. The incidents are being looked into by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which may find that they might have been prevented if the Autopilot hadn’t been used.
To determine “whether Tesla deceived customers, investors, and regulators by making unfounded promises about the capabilities of its driver assistance technology,” prosecutors from the Department of Justice will investigate the company. Depending on what they uncover, the inquiry may lead to criminal charges, civil sanctions, or the conclusion of the problem.
Tesla Self-Driving Claims
The boasts Tesla has made about the self-driving capabilities of its Autopilot system have raised many eyebrows over the years, so this is not a shock. Evidence of the poor quality of Autopilot’s autonomous driving technology is available on the web. When deaths and accidents involving Teslas equipped with Autopilot began to mount, authorities took notice.
According to three unnamed individuals, the Department of Justice began investigating it last year after several accidents involving the company’s Autopilot driving assistance technology. Reuters pointed out that while federal and California safety regulators have looked into Tesla’s autopilot comments, this “potentially represents a more serious level of scrutiny because of the possibility of criminal charges against the company or individual executives,” however the story also noted that it has also offered some warnings about Autopilot, which could complicate any case.
Recently, Tesla has been in a lot of trouble due to the FSD software, which is beloved by enthusiasts but reviled by safety experts. NHTSA looks into 16 incidents in which Tesla drivers were using Autopilot and collided with stopped emergency vehicles, resulting in 15 injuries and one death. The inquiry has advanced to the second and last stage before a potential recall, known as an “Engineering Analysis.”
Companies have been sued by consumers and accused of fraudulent advertising for misrepresenting the capabilities of their automobiles. However, Musk’s plan to position Tesla as an industry leader in AI and robotics depends heavily on FSD. However, Musk’s drive to stay at the forefront of technological advancement has not resulted in any major setbacks.
When asked by MarketWatch on Wednesday whether or not it was true that Tesla had disbanded its public relations division, the company provided no confirmation or comment. The Department of Justice refused to comment, citing the agency’s policy of neither confirming nor denying investigations as the reason. On Wednesday, Tesla’s stock rose by 1%. Over the previous three months, they’ve dropped 13% while the S&P 500 fell 2%.
Elon Musk, inventor and CEO of Tesla, sometimes uses Twitter to praise the technology in his vehicles. Despite his repeated assurances that FSD would eventually be “safer than a person,” some Tesla customers may have too much faith in the technology. He has never said that vehicles should be driven without human input. Drivers have filed complaints against the corporation for what they see as false advertising.
Autopilot, a driving assistance system, is now standard on all Tesla cars. With the FSD option, which costs an extra $15k, owners may have the completely autonomous features that Musk has promised for a long time. However, FSD is still just a “Level 2” sophisticated driver-assistance technology. Thus, the driver must always pay close attention to the road.