Fatal Tesla crash probe: No recall needed, says Uncle Sam

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ended a six-month review of Tesla's Autopilot system spurred by a fatal Florida crash and other incidents involving the semi-autonomous driving feature, finding no specific flaw in the technology and taking no action against the carmaker led by Elon Musk. "Accordingly, this investigation is closed", the report [PDF] concludes.

The NHTSA said it will continue to monitor other potential issues related to Tesla vehicles and "reserves the right to take future action" against the automaker "if warranted by the circumstances".

It's good news for Tesla Autopilot, which has come under scrutiny in the past few months following the fatal accident in May. Automatic emergency braking systems "are rear-end collision avoidance technologies that are not created to reliably perform in all crash modes, including crossing path collisions", the report says.

USA auto-safety regulators said Thursday they had not discovered a safety defect in Tesla Motors' partially self-driving vehicle system after opening an investigation into the matter in June. NHTSA's report on the analysis also highlighted some strengths of the technology.

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NHTSA investigators said their broader look at Tesla crashes included those using Autopilot, or within 15 seconds of transitioning from Autopilot.

"At Tesla, the safety of our customers comes first, and we appreciate the thoroughness of NHTSA's report and its conclusion", said Tesla in a brief statement.

Meanwhile on the highways the autopilot feature allows the vehicle to drive up to speeds of 90 miles per hour regardless of what the speed limit on the highway is.

The investigation followed a May crash in Florida.

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The Autopilot system, which automatically keeps the vehicle in its lane and can brake on its own, was created to be used on limited access highways with on- and off-ramps, according to Tesla's owner's manual.

If you've forgotten, a Tesla Model S driver was using the autopilot feature when his vehicle passed directly underneath the trailer of a semi that was driving perpendicular to his vehicle. Was autopilot to blame or was the driver distracted and using the system inappropriately? Tesla has since added another layer of safety to the system by instituting a "strike out" strategy. According to what we learnt from the briefing is that most auto makers need to offer education to the consumers on the best ways to use the autopilot mechanisms.

Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system that actually includes a number of features such as traffic-aware cruise control (TACC) and Autosteer.

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