California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is reviewing Tesla’s driver assistance software to evaluate whether its vehicles should be considered autonomous, a spokesperson for the company confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday.
The review, which was launched recently, seeks to determine whether the self-driving features that the electric car company offers reach the state’s definition of autonomous vehicles.
If given that designation, Tesla would have to report how how often its vehicles disengage from autonomous mode and would toughen test driver requirements.
“The DMV shares the concern held by many other safety stakeholders about the potential for driver inattention, misunderstanding, or misuse as these systems become more prevalent,” spokesperson Anita Gore said in an emailed statement.
The California DMV is separately reviewing Tesla’s use of the term “Full Self-Driving” to describe its drive assistance tech.
The Los Angeles Times first reported that the agency is reviewing whether Tesla’s vehicles fall under its autonomous vehicle regulations.
Unlike autonomous vehicle developers — such as Waymo, Argo or Cruise — Tesla has not been required to provide crash and disengagement data to the state because their vehicles still require human drivers.
However, several videos have surfaced of Tesla’s self-driving technology making dangerous maneuvers without human intervention, prompting at least one lawmaker to call for a reevaluation of the company’s designation.
The company’s newer driver assistance features have come under increased scrutiny from regulators in recent months.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Tesla over a dozen crashes involving parked emergency vehicles that occurred while the company’s “Autopilot” feature was active.
Tesla has stressed that its technology is safe and noted that it reminds drivers that they must pay attention at all times.
The Hill has reached out to the company for comment.
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