US senators question Tesla over feature that allows cars to run stop signs
Two Democratic US senators have demanded answers from EV giant Tesla about a feature in its so-called ‘Full Self-Driving’ system that allows vehicles to slowly roll through intersections without stopping as well as about complaints that its cars suddenly brake at high speeds.
During the last fall, Tesla's software update rolled out to some consumers gave drivers the option of choosing an “assertive" mode in the driver-assist system that allows the vehicle to roll through all-way stop intersections at low speeds, if no other cars or pedestrians are present.
But after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) raised questions about the feature earlier this month, Tesla agreed to disable the feature with an over-the-air recall. Meanwhile, the US safety agency last week said that it is reviewing complaints about the EV company's vehicles that suddenly brake at high speeds - a phenomenon known as a ‘phantom braking’.
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The Democratic senators - Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed Markey of Massachusetts - said that they have “significant concerns" over Tesla’s use of the technology in its vehicles that are being operated on public roads. In a letter to the company's CEO Elon Musk, the senators wrote, "While advanced driver assistance and automated driving systems have the potential to improve safety, they must be implemented responsibly and comply with existing traffic laws."
The letter also highlighted that when these systems do not meet all the essential requirements, they put all of those who use our roads at risk of injury or death. Musk has been given time until February 22 to answer six questions about its latest software issues.
The senators Blumenthal and Markey further said they are “deeply troubled by Tesla’s design choices that seemingly encourage unsafe driving habits." They added in the letter, “Tesla should not design and implement features for its cars that do not follow the rules of the road."
(with inputs from Bloomberg)