Senate Committee Calls Upon Tesla To Brief Panel On Fatal Model S Crash
Motivated by Consumer reports’ recent suggestions to Tesla to change the name of its Autopilot system and to remove the “hands-free” option or disable the software, a U.S. Senate Committee is calling upon Tesla to provide a brief on the recent fatal Model S crash in Florida.
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation chairman John Thune, asked CEO Elon Musk to provide the committee with its report by July 29. Thune expressed the need to be made aware of Tesla’s plans to make sure that the technology is safe and that consumers will be properly educated of its limitations.
Consumer Reports has indicated that the Autopilot name and the way in which it is marketed is causing drivers to assume too much.
In a related Tweet by Musk, he made it clear that logs showed that Autopilot was not engaged in another recent crash, in Pennsylvania. He also added that the crash would have been avoided had the technology been in use. Musk Tweeted:
“Onboard vehicle logs show Autopilot was turned off in Pennsylvania crash. Moreover, crash would not have occurred if it was on.”
Tesla reported that logs showed Autopilot was activated in the crash in Montana and that the driver’s hands were not on the steering wheel.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reportedly reviewing the crashes, among others. The Michigan driver that was involved in the Pennsylvania accident was charged with careless driving, and although he initially explained that he thought Autopilot was on.
Tesla, in response to Consumer Reports’ recommendations, thanked the publication for its concerns and advice, but noted that it will make its own decisions with the support of compiled data. Being that the technology is in a “beta” stage, drivers are made aware and have to “opt-in” upon activation.
Tesla continues to insist that the Autopilot system is much like that in use by commercial airlines. It functions in desired conditions but:
“The driver (pilot) is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car.”