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Volvo engineer: Tesla Autopilot is an autonomous driving wannabe

Tesla might have beat its rivals to the autonomous driving punch with Autopilot, but at least one rival doesn’t think it’s all that.

Autopilot hit the Tesla Model S in October, and will be an integral part of the massively popular Model 3 when it hits the roads from next year.

As the name suggests, Autopilot isn’t a full autonomous driving system. Rather, it assists with parking, steering and changing lanes on a motorway, and adjusting speed in traffic.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently claimed that Autopilot reduced the chance of an accident by 50 percent.

But Tesla’s rivals aren’t convinced it’s as clever as it claims to be. Volvo engineer Trent Victor recently told The Verge that Tesla’s Autopilot “gives you the impression that it’s doing more than it is,” before labelling the system “more of an unsupervised wannabe.”


This isn’t a particularly new view. There’s an ongoing disagreement over Tesla’s labelling of its Autopilot feature as Level 2 autonomous. Under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s policy, this is a low level of automation that’s roughly equivalent to adaptive cruise control.

Related: 5 Things you need to know about Tesla Model 3

Rivals suggest that Autopilot is actually more of a Level 3 autonomous feature, which involves the driver giving up “full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions,” but being ready to take over at a moment’s notice.

This, according to Victor, makes Tesla’s line-blurring technology dangerous. “It’s important for us as a company, our position on autonomous driving, is to keep it quite different so you know when you’re in semi-autonomous and know when you’re in unsupervised autonomous.”


Do you think Tesla’s Autopilot feature is safe, or should autonomous driving be all or nothing? Let us know what in the comments.

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