Tesla News: Request to Disengage Autopilot
Consumer Reports has called upon Tesla to disengage autopilot after a series of accidents, including a fatality. Tesla stands by their decision to beta test publicly. Even so, they have had recent talks with manufacturers with a view to improving it. With all this controversy about Autopilot, its important to review the facts. Who will you side with; Tesla or Consumer Reports?
Some Autopilot Facts
Autopilot has been operating since October of 2015. Autopilot had driven 130 million miles at the time of the first fatal accident. According to Tesla, a fatal collision occurs every 94 million miles in the USA and every 60 million miles through out the world. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is routinely investigating the crash.
Consumer Reports’ Request
Laura MacCleery, Vice President of Consumer Policy and Mobilization for Consumer Reports says “By marketing their feature as ‘Autopilot,’ Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security. In the long run, advanced active safety technologies in vehicles could make our roads safer. But today, we’re deeply concerned that consumers are being sold a pile of promises about unproven technology. ‘Autopilot’ can’t actually drive the car, yet it allows consumers to have their hands off the steering wheel for minutes at a time. Tesla should disable automatic steering in its cars until it updates the program to verify that the driver’s hands are on the wheel.”
Consumer Reports has called upon Tesla to do the following: Disable Autosteer until it can be reprogrammed to require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel. Stop referring to the system as Autopilot as it is misleading and potentially dangerous. Issue clear guidance to owners on how the system should be used and its limitations. Test all safety-critical systems fully before public deployment; no more beta releases.
Weighing In On the Case
There is certainly a lot to think about. On the one hand we have Autopilot statistics showing the first fatality occurred at about 130,000 miles, well above the national average. The details of the crash also suggest that it likely would have occurred with or without Autopilot engaged. People are killed quite frequently when other vehicles cross divided highways into oncoming traffic. Of note however, is the possibility that another fatality could occur in the recent future, which would drastically change the statistics.
Consumer Reports raises a valid concern. Many Tesla drivers have expressed confusion over whether or not the system is engaged and under what circumstances it disengages. When accident have occurred, several consumers have assumed the feature was in place only to be told by Tesla that it was not.
There is also the thought that Autopilot could be endangering the drivers of other vehicles. While Tesla may have state-of-the-art safety features, will other drivers be ok in the event of an accident caused by Autopilot?