Home / Tech / Tesla needs to fix Autopilot safety flaws, demands Senator Markey

Tesla needs to fix Autopilot safety flaws, demands Senator Markey

Tesla needs to fix Autopilot safety flaws, demands Senator Markey

Elon Musk and Barbara Walters in a Tesla. Musk has his hands off the steering wheel as the car is driving.
Enlarge / Tesla says that Autopilot customers ought to all the time preserve each palms on the steering wheel.


On Friday, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) referred to as on Tesla to undertake “common sense recommendations” in its Autopilot driver help to “guarantee the safety of its technology.” Specifically, he is asking the automaker to cease implying that the system is able to self-driving and likewise asks Tesla to match a correct driver-monitoring system. The senator started his investigation into the corporate’s driver-assist bundle following a number of experiences of drivers circumventing the automobiles’ rudimentary safety controls.

From the senator’s web site:

Autopilot is a flawed system, however I imagine its risks might be overcome… I’ve been proud to work with Tesla on advancing cleaner, extra sustainable transportation applied sciences. But these achievements shouldn’t come on the expense of safety. That’s why I am calling on Tesla to use its sources and experience to higher shield drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and all different customers of the highway. I urge Tesla to undertake my widespread sense suggestions for fixing Autopilot, which embrace rebranding and remarketing the system to scale back misuse, in addition to constructing backup driver monitoring instruments that can be certain that nobody falls asleep on the wheel. Tesla can and should do extra to assure the safety of its expertise.

This just isn’t the primary time that the identify Autopilot has come below hearth. In 2016, the German transport minister instructed the corporate “to no longer use the misleading term for the driver-assistance system of the car.” In 2018, two US shopper safety teams requested the Federal Trade Commission to handle Autopilot’s “misleading and deceptive” branding. In 2019, we found that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration instructed the corporate to cease making “deceptive statements” when it comes to safety, and the corporate repeatedly made claims concerning the safety of Autopilot that weren’t supported by reality. (The knowledge confirmed that Autosteer—a part of the Autopilot suite of assists—really elevated crashes by 59 p.c.)

A survey carried out in 2019 confirmed that practically 50 p.c of drivers thought Autopilot was protected to use hands-free. Tesla has repeatedly said that drivers have to preserve their palms on the wheel always, though the corporate’s CEO famously flouted this recommendation in a prolonged interview proven on CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2018. In a December 2019 letter to Sen. Markey, Tesla wrote that it believes “that many of these videos are fake and intended to capture media attention.”

Markey’s second safety request is for Tesla to match its automobiles with an efficient driver-monitoring system (DMS). He’s not alone—in 2019, in response to one more video of somebody asleep within the driver’s seat of a shifting Tesla, my colleague Tim Lee laid out a case for why a steering wheel torque sensor is insufficient in contrast to a correct DMS like the type utilized by Cadillac or Subaru, which use eye-tracking cameras to guarantee the driving force has their consideration on the highway forward.

This just isn’t the primary time that Markey has turned his consideration to new automobile expertise. In 2015, his workplace launched a report on the shortage of safety measures to stop related automobiles from being hacked.

Tesla didn’t reply when contacted by Ars for its touch upon Sen. Markey’s requests.

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