Consumer Reports Calls Tesla’s AutoPilot ‘Misleading and Potentially Dangerous’

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Consumer Reports Calls Tesla’s AutoPilot ‘Misleading and Potentially Dangerous’

Another voice has weighed in on Tesla’s semi-autonomous AutoPilot system, calling it “misleading and potentially dangerous.”  

Consumer Reports (CR) has sent a message to Tesla, requesting four different actions be taken to make its semi-autonomous AutoPilot system safer. This is in the wake of a string of crashes, one of which was fatal, that all took place while AutoPilot was active. These crashes have also spurred the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to begin an investigation into AutoPilot.

SEE ALSO: Did Tesla Autopilot Just Kill Someone?

CR wants Tesla to deactivate the AutoSteer function until it can be reprogrammed to require drivers to have their hands on the wheel, for Tesla to stop calling it AutoPilot, for clearer guidance to be issued to owners before the system is used and that no more systems still in beta-testing be released to the public.

“By marketing their feature as ‘Autopilot,’ Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security,” said Laura MacCleery, vice president of consumer policy and mobilization for Consumer Reports. “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,” said MacCleery.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Won’t Disable Autopilot Despite Fatal Crash

While other automakers are also selling semi-autonomous driving systems like Tesla’s, AutoPilot is the only one that allows the driver to take their hands off the wheel for minutes at a time. During Consumer Reports testing, it took more than three minutes for a warning to pop up, asking the driver to put their hands back in the wheel. Other semi-autonomous systems will only let you remove your hands for a few seconds before you are prompted to retake control.

Tesla has always stated that even with AutoPilot engaged, the driver is “still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car,” but Consumer Reports feels as though Tesla’s messaging is confusing consumers by saying things like, “your Autopilot has arrived.” In Tesla’s own words, the system can “automatically steer down the highway, change lanes, and adjust speed in response to traffic.”

CR believes that this mixed messaging creates a situation where the driver may not be engaged enough to react to a dangerous situation, even though they are expected to ultimately have control of the car.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Under SEC Investigation for Not Disclosing Fatal Autopilot Crash to Investors

Consumer Reports contacted Tesla about its concerns. “Tesla is constantly introducing enhancements, proven over millions of miles of internal testing, to ensure that drivers supported by Autopilot remain safer than those operating without assistance,” responded the company. “We will continue to develop, validate, and release those enhancements as the technology grows. While we appreciate well-meaning advice from any individual or group, we make our decisions on the basis of real-world data, not speculation by media.”

[Source: Consumer Reports]

  • Joe Wolfe

    Common folks, use some common sense here..the fatal crash was caused by the stupidity of the driver…watching a movie while driving. That is NOT the fault of Tesla. No one can cure stupidity, except the grim reaper.

    There may be issues with Tesla’s Auto Pilot, but the fatal ctash was not one of them. Leave it out of the ‘reasons to fix’ arena!

  • nauticalone

    Agree with CR concerns here. Seem valid and common sense, given many peoples inattentive behavior.

  • Servitude

    One of my 4 requested changes to Tesla would be to ask them to redesign this ugly vehicle. Also reduce the price to something reasonable. As for the technology, this fantastic but autonomous driving vehicles still have a long, long way to go to match a human drivers intuition and reasoning. Computers do one thing really, really well in making several millions of numerical calculations in only seconds, but they have no subjective feeling that something is about to happen, something humans have but computers never will. I mean seriously how did that Tesla determine that semi truck to be a cloud in the sky in that fatal acciden? This is something a human driver who is sober and in control would never make.

  • Joe Tahan

    im not sure if your being funny or if you actually mean what your typing. Each of your points is completely false, except for you opinion of the styling, that’s debatable. 1) “…reduce the price to something reasonable.” You have the model 3 for that sir. for around the 35K price range you get ALMOST the model S. if you’re insisting that a luxury EV be reduced to a reasonable price you are equivalently asking for Porsche to drop the price of its 911 to 40K. 2) “but they have no subjective feeling that something is about to happen, something humans have but computers never will.” Alright you clearly don’t understand what you just typed. You said computers are great at making several millions of calculations in a second and then go on to say that they don’t have any awareness compared to humans. You even go on to cite the best example of human fault; the fatal accident in Florida. The Tesla did not see the truck because it thought it was just sky, the DRIVER ALSO didn’t see the truck. Either because it was too damn sunny, or he wasn’t paying attention to the road because he had autopilot on (Driver error). Also the Tesla has proven its better than human awareness and there’s plenty of dashcams to prove this. 2a) “…this is something a human driver who is sober and in control….”. The guy WAS sober, and he probably wasn’t paying attention. That’s what all these accidents are from. Just because they have the name Auto-pilot doesn’t mean you should let your guard down with a 60mph weapon flying down the highway.

    Have some common sense people. Be aware of what your car is doing, pay attention, for your sake and for others. These cars are amazing leaps forward in automotive technology and they’re only going to get better. But not if we have people blaming autopilot for your stupidity.

    again i hope you were just trolling and said what you did sarcastically. In that case well done sir. you got me.

  • ROY LARE

    HOW MANY REGULAR CAR HAD FATALIES DURING THAT SAME TIME????????????????????????????????????