According to a recent article published by Reuters, Tesla's Autopilot advanced driver-assist system dropped several spots in Consumer Reports testing. The organization recently tested 12 major driver assistance systems for comparison.
Back in 2020, Tesla Autopilot grabbed the second-place position among the various systems tested. General Motors' Super Cruise technology was the leader at the time. Based on the more recent test results, GM's system moved into second place, bumped down a notch by Ford's BlueCruise. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz's Driver Assistance suite came in third.
Of the 12 systems Consumer Reports tested, Tesla's Autopilot technology came in seventh. According to the group of safety testers at the publication, Tesla hasn't made notable changes to Autopilot's overall functionality, but it has added additional features. Director of Consumer Reports Auto Testing Jake Fisher notes that while Tesla has added new features, it still "doesn’t allow collaborative steering and doesn’t have an effective driver monitoring system."
Consumer Reports, along with similar organizations have continually pointed out that Tesla doesn't seem to have a successful way to monitor whether or not drivers are actually paying attention and ready to take control while Autopilot is helping navigate.
Tesla has the ability to add features on the fly via its free over-the-air software updates. It also has a camera in the cabin of the car, which isn't necessarily designed for driver monitoring, though it can be manipulated with software to be used for the purpose. However, there are still questions about whether the use of Tesla's cabin camera to monitor a driver is truly effective.
Currently, Tesla has a "nag" system in place that alerts a driver if they don't keep their hands on the wheel. If the driver continues to ignore the nags, Autopilot will shut off and they'll be forced to take over. Some Tesla owners have learned ways to trick the system, and there are even products for the purpose, which is why organizations like Consumer Reports suggest other means of driver monitoring. Interestingly, Consumer Reports actually published materials in the past showing people precisely how to trick Tesla's Autopilot system.
Tesla has provided various updates to its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability systems to better monitor drivers, but the scope of the updates is confusing not only between the two different driver-assist systems, but also among various cars in Tesla's global fleet. While all new Tesla EVs are supposed to be equipped with all necessary hardware, older vehicles may not be able to function in the same way as the latest versions. In addition, the EVs' features differ depending on the global market where they're produced and deployed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently investigating Tesla's vehicles in an attempt to determine if there are adequate driver monitoring measures in place. The organization claims it's moving as quickly as possible, but notes that there is loads of information to deal with, and it wants to be as careful and thorough as possible.