The fatal May 7 crash of a Tesla Model S using the company’s Autopilot system has brought increased scrutiny from U.S. regulators and the media on the technology, which first became available back in October. Now European authorities are taking a closer look as well.
RDW, the Dutch vehicle regulatory agency, has entered into an “informal exchange” of information on the Tesla Autopilot crash with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to Reuters. The agency has also been in touch with Tesla. Officials will await the NHTSA’s conclusions before taking any action, Hans Lammers, RDW’s manager for vehicle admissions and supervision, said.
RDW issued the roadworthiness certificate for the Model S covering all of Europe, and Lammers said he had no existing safety concerns regarding Autopilot. He noted that the version of Autopilot available in Europe is different than the one used on the Model S involved in the U.S. crash. Tesla had to delay Autopilot’s European launch slightly due to regulatory issues.
Tesla has said from the start that Autopilot is in the “public beta” testing stage, and Lammers confirmed that he had no issue with that either. That’s not an opinion shared by all European safety regulators, however. The German Federal Office for Motor Vehicles (KBA) recently said that, if it had had a choice, it would not have approved Autopilot because of the “beta” label. RDW had the final say in approving the Autopilot-equipped Model S for all of Europe, so the decision was out of KBA’s hands.
Officials would not have approved any software it viewed as incomplete in terms of functionality, a KBA statement to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag (via Reuters) said. The agency is also reportedly discussing Autopilot with Tesla, but has not opened a formal investigation into the technology.
The European inquiries add to the pressure Tesla is already experiencing over Autopilot. Two more crashes involving Autopilot have been reported since the announcement of the NHTSA investigation, although Tesla denies Autopilot was active in one. Tesla may also face a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) probe over whether it should have reported the fatal May 7 crash to its investors.