Feds Set To Close Investigation Into Fatal Tesla Autopilot Incident Without Recall

Image courtesy of Atwater Village Newbie

UPDATE: NHTSA has indeed closed its investigation into this collision and found that the driver was at fault. Click here for more details.

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Six months ago, Tesla’s Autopilot — a semi-autonomous assisted-steering feature — was thrust into the spotlight after a fatal crash that occurred while Autopilot was in use. The incident led to a federal investigation, which is now reportedly set to close without any need for a recall or changes to Autopilot.

Reuters, citing sources close to the matter, reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to announce Thursday that it would close the book on its Autopilot investigation.

These sources tell Reuters that NHTSA did not find evidence of a defect that would have required a safety recall, thanks in part to Tesla’s Autopilot improvements rolled out in September.

NHTSA is expected to provide further details on the investigation findings Thursday afternoon.

Tesla has been under increased scrutiny this year over the Autopilot feature, following the fatal collision in Florida.

The carmaker said in July that it would not disable Autopilot, but a number of consumer safety advocates — including our colleagues at Consumer Reports — have called Tesla out for the potentially confusing messages surrounding the Autopilot feature.

In August, the owner of a Tesla in Beijing said he crashed his car into the side of another vehicle that was parked along the side of the road. The driver said Tesla marketed Autopilot as a fully self-driving feature, while Tesla contends that the driver was at fault for taking his hands off the wheel.

Shortly after the incident, Tesla altered its marketing in China to remove any implication that its cars were fully autonomous.

Since then, regulators in Germany have asked the company to rename the “misleading” Autopilot feature to avoid any confusion that could lead to dangerous collisions.

In November, consumer safety advocates urged the California DMV to act on specific regulations proposed in September that would, in part, put restrictions on how carmakers can advertise self-driving vehicles.