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Consumer Reports: Steer Tesla Autopilot to Side of the Road

Consumer Reports: Steer Tesla Autopilot to Side of the Road

Fatal Tesla crash victim previously posted a video boasting of autopilot feature. (YouTube/Joshua Brown)

By    |   Friday, 15 July 2016 08:04 AM

Consumer Reports said Tesla's autopilot should be disabled after a series of crashes, one of which killed a man in Florida two months ago, sparking a failure-to-disclose securities investigation and raising congressional worries.

The nonprofit product-evaluation magazine on Thursday said Tesla's rollout of its autopilot feature left drivers with a "dangerously premature assumption" that vehicles with the technology could drive on its own.

"Tesla's own press release for the system announced 'Your Autopilot has arrived' and promised to relieve drivers 'of the most tedious and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel,'" Consumer Reports said. "But the release also states that the driver 'is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car.'

"Consumer Reports experts believe that these two messages — your vehicle can drive itself, but you may need to take over the controls at a moment's notice — create potential for driver confusion." 

Sen. John Thune, who leads the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Thursday asked Tesla to brief the committee by July 29 on a fatal crash involving its vehicle with the autopilot software, according to Reuters.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has started an investigation into the May accident in which Joshua Brown, 40, died in Williston, Florida after colliding with a tractor trailer that was making a left turn in front it, noted Reuters and Consumer Reports.

"Tesla later acknowledged that the car was in autopilot mode at the time," said Consumer Reports. "On June 30, Tesla published a blog post about the accident, stating 'neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.'"

The NHTSA told Reuters it also was investigation a recent Pennsylvania crash in which a Tesla driver, Albert Scaglione of Farmington Hills, Michigan, was charged with careless driving. Scaglione said he had autopilot on, but Tesla charged that the vehicle onboard vehicles logs showed that it was off.

In another incident, Tesla said on Tuesday its autosteer software, the steering function in autopilot, was on when a Model X vehicle crashed in Montana, noted Reuters. Tesla said data suggested "the driver's hands were not on the steering wheel."

"By marketing their feature as 'autopilot,' Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security," Laura MacCleery, vice president of consumer policy and mobilization for Consumer Reports said in the magazine's review.

"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."

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Consumer Reports said Tesla's autopilot should be disabled after a series of crashes, one of which killed a man in Florida two months ago, sparking a failure-to-disclose securities investigation and raising congressional worries.
consumer, reports, tesla, autopilot
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2016-04-15
Friday, 15 July 2016 08:04 AM
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