Deadline has been set for Friday, September 2, 2106

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given Tesla until Friday, September 2, 2016, to submit documents related to the accident that killed Joshua Brown on May 7, 2016 on U.S. 27 near Williston, Florida. The incident has been rehashed multiple times, but for those who still don’t know, Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S crashed into a semi truck while its Autopilot system was engaged.

The incident caused widespread scrutiny of Tesla’s Autopilot system, prompting two separate government agencies - the NHTSA and the Florida Highway Patrol - to launch separate investigations on what caused the crash and who was the blame for it. As part of its investigation, the NHTSA submitted an information request to Matthew Schwall, Tesla’s director of field performance engineering, pertaining to the data the automaker gathered from Brown’s Autopilot system. Part of the agency’s request also called for Tesla to identify the number of alleged defects it was aware of related to Forward Collision Warning or Automatic Emergency and tests the automaker “has done or plans to do” to the Autopilot system and the changes the company may have made that could’ve caused the alleged defects to spring forth.

The NHTSA initially gave Tesla until August 26, 2016 to submit the documents, but after a request from the company to extend the deadline, the government agency granted a one-week extension that will expire on September 2, 2016. It’s unclear what kind of penalties the NHTSA will give to Tesla if the automaker doesn’t submit the requested data by Friday.

In related news, Business Insider is also reporting that the Florida Highway Patrol has indicated that its own homicide investigation into the Brown crash is still open and that according to Steven Montiero, a community safety officer for the Florida Highway Patrol, “no new information is expected for another one to two weeks. This development comes after the law enforcement authorities revealed that the investigation would be completed “by the end of August.”

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

On the one hand, delays like this are nothing new when it comes to government investigations. The sheer magnitude of this particular case alone isn’t the kind of thing that can be pin-pointed with a specific timetable. Even the NHTSA itself said as much when it told Business Insider that “the agency never puts a deadline on open investigations because it takes however long it takes to do a thorough job.”

Knowing this makes it hard to blame both the NHTSA and the Florida Highway Patrol for not being done with their respective investigations yet. On the other hand, the delay in submitting the documents to the NHTSA is a bad look for Tesla. While it’s not to the point that you can accuse the company of hiding something, not being able to submit those requested documents on time is a legitimate reason for some suspicions to arise that either the company is hiding something or that it’s not taking the investigation as seriously as it should.

I’m not saying that either of those things are accurate, but if Tesla really wants to help the NHTSA get to the bottom of this case, it has to follow through on important requests like this one. Hopefully, the automaker doesn’t let the one-week extension it was granted go to waste. I fully expect the requested documents to be passed and if they’re not, then the question becomes how cooperative Tesla is being in getting this investigation solved. I don’t think that’s the kind of position the company wants to find itself in.

Source: Business Insider

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