US Justice Department seeks self-driving documents from Tesla

WASHINGTON D.C.: Tesla confirmed this week that the US Justice Department has requested documents related to its Full Self-Driving and Autopilot driver-assistance systems.

As regulatory scrutiny of its products intensifies, the automaker said it "has received requests from the DOJ for documents related to Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features."

In October, Reuters reported that Tesla is under criminal investigation over claims that its electric vehicles could drive themselves.

The US Justice Department launched the probe in 2021 following more than a dozen crashes, some of them fatal, involving Tesla’s Autopilot, Reuters said.

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has championed both Full Self-Driving and Autopilot, stressing they are innovations that will improve road safety and make the company a technology leader.

At a recent Tesla conference call, Musk said that "full self-driving is obviously getting better very rapidly."

However, regulators are investigating Autopilot’s design and claims about its capabilities, and whether they could give users a false sense of security and cause complacency among drivers and lead to road fatalities.

Acting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Ann Carlson said that the agency is "working really fast" on the Tesla Autopilot investigation it opened in August 2021.

Autopilot, which assists with steering, braking, speed and lane changes, currently requires active driver supervision and does not make the vehicle autonomous, but the Full Self-Driving add-on, which Tesla sells for $15,000, enables its vehicles to change lanes and park autonomously.