Tesla insists Autopilot and Full Self-Driving are safe, but US senators aren’t buying it

Tesla insists Autopilot and Full Self-Driving are safe, but US senators aren’t buying it

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Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features are safe, the institution insists successful a missive to 2 apical Senate Democrats. Like, truly safe. Safer than quality driving. Unfortunately, the senators aren’t truly buying it.

“Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD Capability features heighten the quality of our cusotmes [sic] to thrust safer than the mean operator successful the U.S.,” Rohan Patel, elder manager of nationalist argumentation astatine Tesla, writes successful a March 4th missive to US Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA). (The missive was first reported by Reuters.)

Tesla is responding to the senators’ missive to the company’s CEO Elon Musk past period raising “significant concerns” astir Autopilot and FSD. Blumenthal and Markey person besides called connected national regulators to ace down connected Tesla to forestall further misuse of the company’s precocious driver-assist features.

Patel describes Autopilot and FSD arsenic Level 2 systems “which necessitate the changeless monitoring and attraction of the driver.” These features are “capable of performing immoderate but not each of the Dynamic Driving Tasks (DDT) that tin beryllium performed by quality drivers,” helium notes. (That would look to contradict Tesla’s overly optimistic branding of the merchandise arsenic “Full Self-Driving.”)

In his letter, Patel provides a much nuanced (and astir apt legally vetted) overview of Autopilot and FSD than what is typically provided by Musk connected Twitter and successful different nationalist comments. In a caller net call, for example, Musk claimed that FSD volition beryllium safer than quality driving by the extremity of 2022.

Patel doesn’t use the aforesaid deadline, but helium does importune that Tesla’s precocious driving features are safer than quality driving. He notes:

For example, successful the 4th fourth of 2021, Tesla recorded 1 clang for each 4.31 cardinal miles driven successful which our drivers were utilizing Autopilot technology, compared to the NHTSA astir caller data, which shows an automobile clang occurs each 484,000 miles.

Tesla occasionally releases information reports that echo these aforesaid statistic successful an effort to framework Autopilot arsenic safer than quality driving. But experts enactment that these stats are mostly meaningless, arsenic Autopilot is chiefly utilized for road driving. Comparing it to nationalist statistic that see a wide assortment of driving environments, including residential and municipality driving, gives Tesla an unfair advantage.

Patel goes connected to picture Tesla’s operator monitoring system, which uses torque sensors successful the steering instrumentality and (for immoderate Model 3 and Model Y vehicles) compartment cameras to show operator attentiveness.

He does not mention, however, that regulators and information experts person spent years begging Tesla to adhd better operator monitoring to its cars. Musk has adjacent admitted that crashes involving Autopilot stem from complacency but previously rejected his ain engineers’ calls to adhd much robust operator monitoring to the company’s cars. Musk said astatine the clip that the tech was “ineffective.”

Companies similar General Motors and Ford presently merchantability cars with camera-based eye-tracking systems that are meant to marque definite drivers wage attraction portion utilizing hands-free driving features.

If the extremity of Patel’s missive was to assuage the concerns of Blumenthal and Markey astir Tesla’s committedness to safety, it doesn’t look to person worked.

“This is conscionable much evasion and deflection from Tesla,” the senators said successful a associated statement. “Despite its troubling information way grounds and deadly crashes, the institution seemingly wants to transportation connected with concern arsenic usual. It’s agelong past clip Tesla got the message: travel the instrumentality and prioritize safety.”

Tesla did not (and has not since 2019) respond to a petition for comment.

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