US consumer organisation raises concerns over latest Tesla “autopilot” features

  • May 24, 2019

A new feature which enables Tesla vehicles to change lane without the driver’s intervention has been criticised by the American consumer organisation Consumer Reports.

The organisation, which carried out its own tests on the feature, and interviewed drivers and law enforcement officials, says the system is less competent than a human driver.

The tests found that the car would cut off other drivers without leaving enough space, didn’t respond well to fast-moving vehicles coming from the rear and appeared not to react to stop lights or turn signals on vehicles in front.

Tesla told Consumer Reports, “it is the driver’s responsibility to remain in control of the car at all times, including safely executing lane changes.”

In the EU, lane change assistance systems are now permitted following a recent update to current type approval regulations that include the latest UNECE rules on steering systems (R79). ETSC has raised concerns with the European Commission about the safety of the systems, notably that, according to the UNECE rules, they are not required to check in front or to the side of the vehicle.  At the same time, it is not clear how drivers will be informed about the systems’ limitations.

A preliminary report by the US National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) published earlier this month found that the Autopilot system was engaged when a Tesla collided with a lorry crossing a highway in Florida in March. Neither the system, nor the driver appeared to take evasive action.  The Tesla driver was killed in the collision.