The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating Tesla vehicles following allegations of a concealed setting.
This hidden configuration allegedly allows drivers to operate their Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) systems without the mandated hands-on-the-wheel requirement.
Recently disclosed documents from the NHTSA indicate that the agency has requested Tesla to provide documents related to its Autopilot function.
NHTSA Probes Tesla’s Autopilot Configuration
According to the NHTSA’s records, in July, the agency reached out to Tesla’s legal department, demanding all pertinent documents regarding the said system. A special order was issued, requiring these documents to be submitted by August 25.
Non-compliance could lead to daily fines of up to $26,315. As of now, neither Tesla nor the NHTSA has confirmed if Tesla has met this request.
The NHTSA has uncovered that Tesla introduced a setting in its Autopilot and FSD systems, allowing drivers to operate their vehicles without applying force to the steering wheel for extended periods.
This setting, often referred to as the “Elon mode,” was brought to light by a social media user known as @greentheonly in June. The NHTSA has expressed concerns about this configuration becoming more public, potentially leading to misuse.
Looks like autopilot trigger campaigns were such a success internally, other groups got interested, and so
relatively recently Tesla introduced a similar feature for ICE (named Dynamic Triggers).
It looked like it was dormant, but no, it turned out unlike autopilot,
— green (@greentheonly) July 8, 2023
It’s crucial for automakers with driver-assistance systems, like Autopilot, to implement mechanisms ensuring drivers keep their hands on the wheel for safety reasons.
While no system currently allows for fully autonomous driving without driver interaction, both Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, have hinted that Autopilot and FSD possess such capabilities.