Another US investigation involves Tesla: Unexpected braking

DETROIT (AP), -- U.S. safety regulators launched a new investigation into Tesla. This time, it was related to claims that Tesla's cars could stop abruptly on the roads.

Another US investigation involves Tesla: Unexpected braking

Another US investigation involves Tesla: Unexpected braking

DETROIT (AP), -- U.S. safety regulators launched a new investigation into Tesla. This time, it was related to claims that Tesla's cars could stop abruptly on the roads.

According to the government, 354 owners have complained about "phantom braking," in Tesla Models 3 or Y over the past nine months. This probe includes approximately 416,000 vehicles between the 2021-2022 model years.

There were no reports of injuries or crashes.

These vehicles have partially-automated driver-assist features, such as adaptive cruise control or "Autopilot," that allow them to brake and steer within their lane.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has posted documents Thursday indicating that the vehicles can suddenly brake at highway speeds.

"Complainants report rapid deceleration that can occur without warning and often repeatedly during one drive cycle," agency states. Many owners fear a rear-end collision on a freeway.

This probe is the latest in a series of enforcement actions by the agency, which also includes Autopilot and Full Self-Driving software. Tesla did not respond to messages Thursday asking for comment.

This is the fourth official investigation of Texas automaker. NHTSA has been overseeing 15 Tesla recalls from January 2021. The agency also sent investigators to 33 accidents involving Teslas with driver-assist system since 2016, in which 11 people died.

One of the complaints was from a Tesla owner in Austin, Texas. He claimed that his Model Y on Autopilot had stopped repeatedly on freeways and two-lane roads for no apparent reason.

In a February 2nd complaint, the owner stated that the phantom brake ranges from a minor throttle response to reduce speed to full emergency brake that dramatically reduces speed. This creates unsafe driving conditions for the occupants of my car as well as anyone following me. The NHTSA's public databases do not identify those who file complaints.

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, has been fighting U.S. and California government agencies over the years. He sparred with NHTSA and most recently with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Musk's lawyers sent a letter to Manhattan federal judge Thursday morning accusing the SEC from harassing him by sending him subpoenas and investigations over his tweets. Musk and Tesla agreed to each pay $20 million civil fines in 2018 over Musk's tweets that he had the money to privatize the company at $420 per share. Although the funding was not secured, the company is still public. The settlement included governance changes including Musk's removal as chairman of the board and approval of Musk tweets. This is largely due to Alex Spiro's outspoken criticism of government. The letter stated that the SEC's "outsized efforts appear calculated to chill him exercise of First Amendment rights rather to enforce generally applicable laws in a fair manner."

Shapiro asks why the SEC hasn’t paid the $40 million in fines Tesla shareholders three years after the settlement.

Thursday's message sought comment from the SEC.

NHTSA ordered Tesla to recall almost 579,000 U.S. vehicles last week. The "Boombox" function plays sounds over an external speaker, and can obscure audible warnings to pedestrians in case of an approaching car. When asked by Twitter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk replied that the recall was ordered by the "fun police".

Michael Brooks, the acting executive director of Center for Auto Safety, stated that it was encouraging to see NHTSA take enforcement action after years of "turning the other way" with Tesla. He said that the company continues to release software onto U.S. streets without testing it for safety. Brooks sent an email Thursday saying that a fragmented approach to solving each problem does not address the bigger issue in Tesla's safety culture, which is the willingness of the company to continue to beta-test its technology on Americans while misleading the capabilities and capabilities of its vehicles.

The Washington Post reported that Tesla owners were complaining of phantom brake problems on February 2.

Tesla also recalls vehicles with "Full Self-Driving" that are programmed to run slow stop signs, heat systems that don’t clear windshields quickly enough and seat belt chimes that aren’t audible to warn drivers if they aren’t properly buckled. Also, a feature that allows movies on touch screens to be played while the car is being driven was recalled. These issues were fixed by online software updates.

NHTSA announced in August that it was investigating Teslas for Autopilot not stopping emergency vehicles parked on roads. The investigation includes a dozen accidents that resulted in one death and 17 injuries.

The investigation into Thursday comes after Tesla recalls nearly 12,000 vehicles in October due to a similar phantom brake problem. To fix the glitch in its "Full Self-Driving", software, the company issued an online update.

In September, Tesla released a software update that improved detection of emergency vehicle lights under low-light conditions.

Tesla drivers were selected to beta test the "Full Self-Driving” software on public roads. NHTSA has also asked for information from Tesla, including a Tesla requirement that the testers not reveal information.

Date Of Update: 17 February 2022, 15:08

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