Wait for Tesla self-driving cars gets longer, safety prime concern

  • Tesla underlines its Full-Self Drive technology is absolutely safe. Regulatory authorities are not entirely convinced yet.
File photo of parked Tesla EVs.
File photo of parked Tesla EVs.

A world where cars drive entirely on their own is almost upon us but pending regulatory approvals stand in the way of companies working towards this end. Tesla has been spearheading the technological advancements and while the US electric vehicle (EV) maker does offer a software package called ‘Full Self-Driving’ or FSD, it has not received the green signal from the law.

There were expectations that Tesla would manage to secure the necessary approvals by this year but it has now been confirmed that the wait has been extended. Tesla EVs with FSD at present require human attention at all times - and intervention when required. A Tesla car driving completely on its own, however, would need a stamp of approval from safety regulatory authorities in the US.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been a very vocal advocate of cars that can drive entirely on their own, even claiming that these would be safer because technological advancements negate chances of human errors. Recently, Musk admitted that while such vehicles may still require a person behind the steering, it won't be necessary for them to take controls at all. "The car will be able to take you from your home to your work, your friend's house, the grocery store without you touching the wheel," he told a post-earnings call on Wednesday, according to Reuters. “It's a separate matter as to will it have regulatory approval. It won't have regulatory approval at that time."

An upgraded version of FSD is coming to Tesla models by the end of this year and the company is hoping it would further showcase the abilities of such vehicles to regulatory authorities in the US. But will it convince the authorities at long last? The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) appears to be in no rush to allow a clear passage to fully autonomous vehicles. Crashes and accidents - possibly caused due to self-driving tech - have hardly helped matters. But most agree that it is not about ‘if’ but when as far as such technologies are concerned.

First Published Date: 20 Oct 2022, 10:14 AM IST
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