Tesla admits Autopilot system requires 'constant monitoring'
EV giant Tesla Inc defended the safety benefits of its advanced driver assistance system Autopilot system and the Full Self-Driving (FSD) capability of its vehicles against the concerns raised by US Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey. However, the carmaker admitted that the system requires "constant monitoring and attention of the driver."
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The EV maker's response comes after the US senators on February 8 raised "significant concerns" about the Autopilot and FSD systems which have prompted scrutiny from safety regulators. In the response letter, Tesla's senior director, public policy and business development Rohan Patel, said that the features enhance the ability of its customers "to drive safer than the average driver in the US."
He acknowledged that both these systems "require the constant monitoring and attention of the driver." He further noted that Tesla vehicles are capable of performing "some but not all of the Dynamic Driving Tasks" that can be performed by human drivers.
A statement on Tesla's website notes that the Autopilot system enables vehicles to steer, accelerate and brake automatically and "require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous." While the system allows drivers to keep their hands off the wheel at times, its torque-based hands-on-wheel detection helps ensure drivers remain attentive. Patel also noted in the letter that Tesla "understands the importance of educating owners on the capabilities of Autopilot and FSD Capability."
Tesla launched a test version of its FSD system more than a year ago, and has now expanded the deployment to 60,000 users. But the system has sparked criticism that it is risking safety by testing its technology with untrained drivers on public roads. Upon receiving Tesla's response, both the senators told Reuters that the letter was "just more evasion and deflection from Tesla. Despite its troubling safety track record and deadly crashes, the company seemingly wants to carry on with business as usual."
(with inputs from Reuters)