Tesla has long touted the safety of its car and autopilot system, which has made headlines for its ability to drive a car at a level of automation far above traditional vehicles. Tesla contends that its system is safe, and its systems don’t expose its drivers to too many dangers in comparison to their traditional counterparts.
But as with many a headline on the internet, this one did not pan out in a way that Tesla, or its customers, was looking for.
The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Consumer Reports is looking into the safety of the autopilot features in Tesla vehicles, after it received a number of complaints from its consumers that Tesla’s system has been fooling them into thinking their cars were driving themselves, even after they had “skipped out on their own safety.”
One Tesla driver told Consumer Reports that he was able to drive more than 120 miles on Highway 101 while driving at 62 miles per hour, even when his Tesla’s car system was prompted to ask him to take over the vehicle at a stoplight.
“The functionality has improved dramatically this year, which makes the vehicles appear to be driving themselves at freeway speeds, which was terrifying,” the Consumer Reports report stated. “This has also made Tesla’s autopilot a hot topic among our Tesla owners, which is great for a publication that covers cars so closely. Some drivers are pushing the boundaries, leaving too much space between their cars and the shoulder of the road, speeding, passing other traffic or even not slowing down when a car comes around a corner.”
One Consumer Reports customer, Joshua Brill, recalled how his Tesla’s autopilot launched suddenly just last month as he was standing at the rear of his car as he walked to the door of his house.
The update caused his car to accelerate into oncoming traffic and crash into a Toyota, causing the Tesla to catch fire and spilling oil all over the roadway and surrounding town. The intersection of University Drive and Cobb Drive in Lake Forest was closed for three hours. Brill spent the night in the hospital.
The Model S he was driving had been upgraded by the Tesla to version 9 software earlier this year, which allows drivers to use autopilot to accomplish tasks such as zipping through traffic and opening and closing the driver’s side door when the driver needs to leave the car.
This latest news about Tesla’s safety system comes after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told CBS in an interview that it would be “looking into the accident” to find out what happened. This news comes just a day after Elon Musk apologized for insulting a U.S. senator, Max Baucus, and saying that it would not take Senate subpoena power to get Musk to testify about the Sept. 29 fatal crash in Florida of a semi-truck traveling at 100 miles per hour in autopilot mode.
Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.
Tesla driver killed in autopilot crash suffered from a genetic disorder that was likely fatal in the crash