Tesla’s Autopilot has been the subject of criticism for some time now. Following a mysterious series of accidents, the U.S. Transportation Department has now launched an investigation into the e-car manufacturer’s driving assistant. 745,000 vehicles are said to be affected.

Time and again, Tesla’s Autopilot has been linked to various accidents. As early as 2016, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated investigations as a result of a fatal accident.

The result: The driving assistance system had functioned correctly according to its capabilities, but the driver had relied on it too much.

This brings us to one of the basic problems of Tesla’s driving assistant. The name Autopilot suggests that the system is a fully autonomous system that no longer needs the driver. But that is only partly the case.

According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), it is not a fully autonomous system of level three, but a semi-autonomous system of level two – albeit a very advanced one.

Even though Tesla increasingly points this out to its customers, fatal accidents occur time and again because drivers place too much trust in the system.

Tesla’s Autopilot: U.S. Transportation Department reopens investigation

As a result of a mysterious series of accidents, the U.S. Transportation Department has now re-initiated investigations against Tesla.

The case involves a total of eleven rear-end collisions in which Tesla vehicles collided with fire trucks and ambulances parked on the side of the road. According to NHTSA, 17 people were injured and one person died.

The agency is now investigating a connection with Tesla’s Autopilot. The investigation concerns almost all models delivered with the driving assistant from 2014. That is around 745,000 vehicles in the USA.

Since the rear-end collisions, which date back to 2018, are similar in their sequence and Tesla’s Autopilot was active in all cases, a connection is obvious.

Tesla share price plunges

After the NHTSA announced its investigation, Tesla shares came under pressure. Within one day, the share price on Wall Street fell by almost five percent – from just under 600 euros to around 570 euros.

Tesla has repeatedly pointed out in the recent past that drivers would abuse the driving assistant as a pure autopilot. In terms of the name, however, the company is to some extent responsible for this itself.

To prevent accidents, Tesla tightened its safety measures a few years ago. Since then, the Autopilot software emits warning tones after a few seconds if the driver’s hands are not on the wheel. However, critics criticize the measure as insufficient.

They demand that the cockpit cameras in the vehicles should be used to monitor the drivers.