Tesla's 'full self-driving' mode faces close scrutiny as rollout finally begins

Andrew Cummings
October 23, 2020

The watchdog has faulted the company for fatal acccidents in the USA that involved Tesla's autopilot, a less-complete driver assistance system that follows major roads.

Despite initial excitement, company watchers were quick to point out small print on Tesla's own website stated that "full self-driving" should not be considered autonomous driving, and that active human supervision is necessary at all times.

To be clear, Tesla's definition for fully self-driving cars is different from a fully autonomous vehicle.

Tesla's strong third-quarter earnings sent its stock price up as much as 5.5% in pre-market trading on Thursday.

Musk and his team reiterated their target of delivering 500,000 vehicles this year. "As it collects more data it gets more robust", he said. One of them is Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE), which comprises automakers (Daimler, Ford, GM, Audi, Toyota), tech firms (Cruise, Blackberry, Wayo, Nvidia) and industry groups (AAA, SAE International and Consumer Technology Association).

"Public road testing is a serious responsibility and using untrained consumers to validate beta-level software on public roads is unsafe and inconsistent with existing guidance and industry norms", it said.

Autopilot and similar advanced driver assistance systems can provide steering, braking and acceleration support under limited circumstances, generally on highways. In offering this upgrade, Tesla has become the sole carmaker to offer something close to self-driving ability on city streets to regular customers, as a beta.

Earlier this month, Tesla Inc chief executive Elon Musk indicated that the company could make a foray into India in 2021.

They also posted a picture of the software update release notes, which said the system "may do the wrong thing at the worst time", urging drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and pay extra attention.

For its part, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says in a statement that it's been made aware of the Tesla program and basically takes no issue with it.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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