Self-driving cars have long been a sci-fi fantasy, albeit not one as fantastical as flying cars. With Tesla self-driving cars— and alternatives — we are getting closer to realising that dream. However, with consistent accidents, federal regulators are concerned.
Safety Agency increases Tesla self-driving cars investigation
Via The New York Times, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced plans to further its ongoing Tesla investigation. After continued accidents attributed to the Autopilot and full self-driving systems, a preliminary investigation was conducted.
Now, after months of continued accidents, the NHTSA is upping its investigation on Tesla’s systems. If the investigation proves that the vehicles are unsafe to use, then recalls will be enforced.
The NHTSA’s investigation will be focused on how the Autopilot AI deals with dangerous incidents. Currently, the investigation is looking to see whether or not drivers’ attentions are diverted from the road when Autopilot is engaged, increasing risky behaviour.
This investigation will look at Tesla Models S, X, 3 and Y, of which around 830,000 exist in the United States. During the preliminary investigation, the safety agency became aware of 191 crashes involving the aforementioned models with Autopilot and/or Full Self-Driving enabled.
Is Tesla blaming drivers for unsafe software?
Tesla self-driving cars are not exactly finished products. In fact, the self-driving features of the electric vehicles are beta softwares. Of course, this has often been criticised due to the danger of delivering unfinished software to the general public. Tesla puts the blame on the drivers using it.
Nevertheless, Tesla still names the driver assistant features in over-hyped marketing spiel: Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. If drivers are expected to drive the car when a Tesla swerves towards a crowd, it’s not full self-driving.
With this in mind, Highway Safety Association governor Mr. Adkins is pushing to force the features to be renamed. Adkins claims that the names are too manipulative and could be leading to many of the issues we see today.
“At a minimum they should be renamed,” he said. “Those names confuse people into thinking they can do more than they are actually capable of.”
Should Tesla full self-driving be recalled? Well, products have been recalled for much less. However, the fact that the $10,000 feature is classed as a “beta” could mean that it can’t. Only time will tell.