Image Credit: [Tesla/ShoeMedia]

The NTSB, or National Transportation Safety Board, is calling on a fellow government agency to implement more stricter regulations when it comes to automated vehicles. The NTSB sent a letter to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) saying that it ‘must act’ and ‘develop a strong safety foundation.’

Robert Sumwalt, NTSB chairman, cites Tesla several times in a negative light to back up the department’s suggestions. In fact, Tesla is referenced 16 times across the letter’s 15 pages. That’s 0.9375 Tesla mentions per page, folks.

In one part of the document, Sumwalt wrote about the NHTSA’s ‘continued failure’ to implement the regulations that would be needed to prevent driver-assist systems like Autopilot from functioning beyond its intended capabilities.

Because NHTSA has put in place no requirements, manufacturers can operate and test vehicles virtually anywhere, even if the location exceeds the AV control system’s limitations. For example, Tesla recently released a beta version of its Level 2 Autopilot system, described as having full self-driving capability. By releasing the system, Tesla is testing on public roads a highly automated AV technology but with limited oversight or reporting requirements.

Robert Sumwalt

The NTSB has criticized both Tesla and its sister agency before when it held a hearing last year on the 2018 crash that killed Apple developer Walter Haung. Sumwalt was frustrated with both the NHTSA and Tesla. He said, ‘Government regulators have provided scant oversight.’ But the agency has little authority and can only really issue recommendations. As part of its role in investigating traffic accidents, it simply doesn’t have the authority to enforce or create regulations. 

That power is solely in the hands of the NHTSA.

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