Tesla and its Autopilot driver assistance system have a habit of making the news and today is no exception, with the United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg getting involved this time around.
During an interview with Bloomberg News in Washington, Buttigieg said the American EV company’s use of the Autopilot name doesn’t make sense and that it’s a concern.
“I wouldn’t call something ‘Autopilot’ if the manual explicitly says that you have to have your hands on the wheel and the eyes on the road all the time,” Buttigieg said, quoted by Automotive News. “That’s not saying anything about the NHTSA scope of investigation, I’m just saying at a common sense level. I think that’s a concern.”
As a reminder, Tesla’s tech is still considered a Level 2 driver assistance system, according to the SAE Levels of Driving Automation, mainly because the driver always has to supervise the car’s actions, otherwise, the system disengages.
Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is an agency of the Department of Transportation, announced that Tesla will recall over 360,000 vehicles because its Full-Self Driving (FSD) Beta driver assistance feature increases the risk of having a crash. FSD however costs an additional $15,000 and comes on top of basic Autopilot, which is present on every new Tesla sold today.
As a result of the recall, the rollout of the FSD feature is paused for new users and subscribers that haven’t yet received the software update, while those who already have FSD Beta active will be able to continue using it.
Additionally, the NHTSA is investigating possible Autopilot defects and assessing Tesla’s methods of tracking drivers to ensure their engagement, while the Department of Justice is looking into whether the EV maker has made misleading statements about its driver assistance systems.
As a reminder, Tesla states that Autopilot features require “active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”
More recently, the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, said that Tesla’s next generation of electric vehicles will operate “almost entirely in autonomous mode,” stopping short of calling the upcoming EVs “autonomous.”
As always, we’d like to know what your thoughts are on this, so scroll down to the comments section below and tell us what you think.