Tesla Motors has been ordered by federal automotive regulators to provide data on the Autopilot configuration in the Elon Mode setting, after questions were raised about how the automaker’s semi-autonomous driving system was being implemented by consumers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent Tesla a demand letter earlier this month, asking for data on the Autopilot system enabling conditions, trajectory information and safety systems for vehicles in the “Elon Mode” situation. Elon Mode, named after Tesla CEO Elon Musk, allows Autopilot to be used even in areas where it was previously unable to operate.
Tesla’s implementation of Autopilot and Elon Mode have been under scrutiny for some time, with experts questioning the system’s safety and ability to work within certain conditions. The NHTSA’s demand is seen as a step towards greater oversight of Tesla’s Autopilot system, which has been the subject of several crashes.
Tesla has previously indicated that it is confident in the safety of its Autopilot system, and maintains that all features must be used with the driver’s constant attention and hands on the wheel at all times. However, the NHTSA’s demand has fueled speculation that the agency is looking to tighten regulations around the use of semi-autonomous driving systems.
Tesla has been forthcoming with the NHTSA’s request, with the automaker indicating that it plans to provide all the information requested. The NHTSA will reportedly use the data to analyze how and whether Tesla’s Autopilot system is being codeveloped in an acceptable manner.
The NHTSA’s probe into Tesla’s Autopilot and Elon Mode is part of a broader effort by regulators to increase oversight of semi-autonomous driving systems. The agency has previously sent out several demand letters to other automakers in an effort to gather information on their semi-autonomous driving technology.
The NHTSA is expected to release its full report on the use of Autopilot and Elon Mode at some point later this year. Tesla is also likely to use the information gathered from the report to further improve its Autopilot system.