(CTN News) – Tesla Inc, the US automaker, has expressed its commitment to continuously enhance its Autopilot driver assistant system and expand its availability to a wider range of consumers.
This decision is based on data that demonstrates improved safety metrics when the system is engaged. In response to a recent investigation by the Washington Post, which highlighted serious crashes involving Autopilot in situations where it could not reliably function, Tesla stated that its data indicates the system has been instrumental in saving lives and preventing injuries.
The Post’s report identified several instances between 2016 and 2023 where Autopilot was activated inappropriately, and it was criticized for not implementing stricter geographical restrictions despite having the technical capability to do so.
According to the Post, Autopilot is designed to be used on controlled-access highways that have a center divider, clear lane markings, and no cross traffic.
However, Tesla’s user manual warns that the technology may not work properly on roads with hills or sharp curves.
Tesla responded to the Post’s investigation by stating that it focused on instances where drivers misused the Autopilot feature, implying that the system itself was at fault. Tesla further claimed that Autopilot was approximately 10 times safer than the average US vehicle and five times safer than a without the technology.
The company also emphasized that the driver is ultimately responsible for controlling the vehicle at all times and is reminded of this responsibility.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been criticized by The Post for not implementing regulations to restrict the use of Tesla’s technology to its intended purpose.
Despite launching investigations into the software following numerous crashes involving Tesla vehicles colliding with stationary emergency vehicles, the NHTSA has not taken action to limit the technology’s usage.
When approached for comment, the NHTSA did not respond immediately, citing non-business hours.
According to The Post, the NHTSA explained that verifying whether systems like Autopilot are being used within their designated conditions would be a complex and resource-intensive task. Furthermore, they expressed doubts that such measures would effectively resolve the issue.
In a recent ruling, a judge in Florida found “reasonable evidence” that Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk and other executives were aware of the defective Autopilot system in their vehicles, yet still allowed them to be driven in an unsafe manner.
This ruling represents a setback for Tesla, as the company had previously won two product liability trials in California this year related to the Autopilot system.