A leading consumer advocacy group has called on Tesla to pull its controversial Autopilot feature from vehicles and change its ‘misleading’ name, following the death of a driver using the beta feature.
Consumer Reports has implored upon Tesla to remove the Autosteer feature until “it updates the program to verify that the driver’s hands are on the wheel.”
If Tesla were to heed the advice, it would surely mean redesigning the steering wheel to include sensors recognising when drivers are in contact.
The call from Laura MacCleery, CR’s VP of consumer policy and mobilisatio,. comes following a fatal crash in Florida, where Tesla’s Autopilot failed to detect a tractor-trailer in bright sunlight.
Consumer Reports says the feature, which allows drivers to have their hands off the wheel for minutes, promises “too much autonomy too soon.” It is asking Tesla to stop releasing features in beta.
The plea also calls upon Tesla to change the name of the Autopilot feature “as it is misleading and potentially dangerous.”
“Consumer Reports experts believe that these two messages—your vehicle can drive itself, but you may need to take over the controls at a moment’s notice—create potential for driver confusion,” the article reads.
“It also increases the possibility that drivers using Autopilot may not be engaged enough to to react quickly to emergency situations.”
Tesla is currently being investigated by the US transport agency over the crash in Florida.
The government is also seeking information on other incidents involving the Autopilot system.
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In response to the CR article, Tesla claimed “130 million miles have been driven on Autopilot, with one confirmed fatality.”
Earlier this week, Elon Musk announced plans to educate drivers on how to safely use the feature, but intimated that Autopilot is here to stay.