U.S. traffic safety agency to close Tesla Autopilot investigation without recall request

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will close the investigation it began six months ago into a driver death that occurred while using Tesla’s Autopilot highway semi-autonomous driving feature, Reuters reports. The investigation did not find cause for a recall of Tesla vehicles with Autopilot, the report claims.

There’s no dispute from anyone involved that Autopilot was engaged when the accident occurred. The crash, which resulted in the death of 40-year old Ohio resident Joshua Brown, happened on a divided highway when a semi-truck crossed the lane perpendicular to a Model S driving with Autopilot engaged, and the Autopilot system could not detect the white trailer against a white sky, and also discounted the object from radar detection because it was designed to filter out objects that resemble overhead road signs.

Tesla has noted that this is the only recorded death in the history of Autopilot use, which now has more than 222 million miles driven. Meanwhile, traffic fatalities in the U.S. using human-powered vehicles result in a fatality around every 94 million miles. Tesla has also since made improvements to its Autopilot system, employing more sophisticated radar sensing with updates that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said would’ve helped avoid the fatal crash that killed Brown.

When Tesla announced these improvements, Musk also noted that the company had been keeping NHTSA very much in the loop on Autopilot updates.

We’ve reached out to Tesla for comment, and will update if we receive more information.