The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a formal investigation of the Tesla Autopilot electronic driver aid's apparent difficulty identifying parked emergency vehicles and first responder scenes.
The agency said 11 crashes in which 17 people were injured and one person died have occurred since 2018 where drivers were confirmed to have been using Autopilot or its Traffic Aware Cruise Control function when their vehicles collided with "one or more vehicles" in or on the side of the road. According to the Office of Defects Investigation report most of the incidents occurred after dark and all involved illuminated vehicles, signs and cones.
The investigation covers all four of Tesla's models from the 2014 to 2021 model years and will "include examination of contributing circumstances."
Tesla sold approximately 765,000 of the affected cars, the NHTSA report said.
In June, NHTSA ordered all automakers to begin actively reporting accidents involving their Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems, which includes Autopilot.
Elon Musk, who has taken sole responsibility for Tesla communications in the U.S., has not yet commented on the announcement, but on Sunday was tweeting about upcoming improvements to its Full Self-Driving system, which offers more automated driving capability than Autopilot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report