The U.S. Department of Justice has asked Tesla for documents related to its Full Self-Driving brand and Autopilot advanced driver assistance systems, the automaker disclosed in a securities filing.
said Tesla upon submission it “has received requests from the DOJ for documents related to Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features.” “To our knowledge, no government agency has concluded in any ongoing investigation that any wrongdoing occurred,” Tesla noted in the 10K filing posted Monday.
Tesla has been under DOJ investigation for at least a year, Reuters reported that last fall, citing three people familiar with the matter.” It’s unclear if the DOJ request for documents is related to that investigation, which was launched in late 2021 after more than a dozen accidents involving active use of Tesla’s Autopilot system.
Tesla vehicles come standard with a driver assistance system called Autopilot. For an additional $15,000, owners can purchase “fully self-driving,” or FSD — a feature that CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly promised will one day bring full autonomous driving capabilities.
None of these systems are self-driving. Autopilot and FSD are advanced driver assistance systems that automate some driving tasks yet require the driver to be ready to take the helm at any time. Autopilot keeps the vehicle centered in the lane, can automatically change lanes, and maintain the proper distance from other vehicles in traffic. FSD has those features and more, including an active guidance system that navigates a car from a highway entrance to an exit, including interchanges and lane changes.
Musk’s claims and promises of these systems, as well as the branding, have caught the attention of regulators. The DOJ’s investigation reflects an increase in regulatory oversight of Tesla.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Tesla CEO Elon Musk regarding specific comments and efforts to promote the automaker’s claims of its “self-driving” capabilities. The investigation follows testimony from a Tesla engineer that a 2016 video purporting to show a self-driving Tesla car was in fact staged and that Musk directed the video.
Tesla has been investigated and sued by various agencies and individuals for its self-driving claims. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a number of special investigations into Tesla for Autopilot accidents; the California Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla of falsely advertising its ADAS; and drivers sued the company for misleading marketing.
All the attention has not thwarted Musk. During Tesla’s Q4 2022 earnings call, Musk said that “fully self-driving is clearly getting better very quickly.” In the past, he boasted that Tesla was close to “solving” full self-driving.