Tesla is one of the leaders of manufacturing electric vehicles. It has since been doing various developments in perfecting its autopilot system and has even started to venture out into autonomous or self-driving cars. The American automaker’s futuristic mindset is both exciting and terrifying at the same time.
Now Tesla is under fire after a fatal accident occurred early this year that involved their autopilot system. On May 7, 40-year old ex-Navy SEAL Joshua Brown met his unfortunate end after his Tesla Model S on autopilot mode nearly collided with a truck before tumbling a few yards away.
Since then, Tesla has been under NHTSA’s scrutiny because its self-driving system has been pinpointed as one of the main reasons for the accident; the brake and forward-collision warning functions on Brown’s Model S seemed to have not worked as it should, thus resulting to the man’s death. The Securities and Exchange Commission has also been keeping its eye on Tesla after the American automaker failed to report the accident which most people believe would potentially decrease their stock prices and lose investors. Now, non-profit product evaluating American magazine Consumer Reports has been calling for Tesla to make changes on the way that the automaker has advertised its self-driving cars to the public.
First, the publication claims that the name “Autopilot” is misleading as it makes customers assume that the system is already perfect when in fact it is still in its “Beta” or developmental phase. They also suggest that Tesla should give out clearer instructions on how the system works – what it can and cannot do. Aside from that, they believe that the Autosteer capabilities must be revoked just until the time that it is reprogrammed to keep the driver’s hands on the wheel at all times. And lastly, Consumer Reports firmly believes that Tesla should avoid testing their technologies on the public as it poses a great safety threat in case their systems don’t work as it should just like what happened in Florida. They further add that it is ironic for Tesla to say that customers should be responsible drivers but at the same time encouraging them to sit back and relax (literally) while enjoying the ride as their system works just fine.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to answer all these sentiments. He emphasized that the term “Beta” is used to mean that the technologies on their cars are still in a testing phase which means that there must be some glitches from time to time. He also reiterated that he’s firm about his decision that the company will not comply with Consumer Report’s requests as these recommendations are the product of media speculation and are not based on real-world data. He acknowledges that these are well-meaning advice but that the company will still push the development, validation and release of these new technologies.
To address the concern on keeping the driver’s hands on the wheel even in autopilot mode, Musk explains that humans in general have problems with keeping their focus on regaining control over autonomous tasks. Lastly, Tesla is not in any way disabling the autopilot feature in its cars which we think is what makes their vehicles unique. However, the company will double the effort so that such accidents will not happen again. It plans to further educate its potential buyers on the functionalities of the system and it intends to launch an “explanatory blog post” highlighting how the Autopilot works and what are to be expected once it is activated.
Tesla is getting more aggressive with its campaign to become the best electric vehicle manufacturer but it should also remember: SAFETY FIRST AMONG OTHERS. We’re quite positive that Tesla will try its best to correct their mistakes so that accidents like what happened in Florida will never happen again. But as they say, there’s always a yin and a yang to everything so even if Tesla assures its customers that their autopilot is safe, drivers must keep their eyes on the road at all times just to be sure.