Consumer Reports calls on Tesla to rename Autopilot, disable auto steering

In the wake of a fatal crash that has prompted investigations by a couple of federal agencies, Consumer Reports is urging Tesla to disable automatic steering in its Autopilot technology — and rename Autopilot while it’s at it.

Saying the magazine questions whether the name Autopilot and the hype around it “promoted a dangerously premature assumption that the Model S was capable of truly driving on its own,” Consumer Reports also called on the Palo Alto electric-car maker to more clearly explain to users the system’s limitations, and even to stop beta releases.

“By marketing their feature as ‘Autopilot,’ Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security,” says Laura MacCleery, vice president of consumer policy and mobilization for Consumer Reports, in the magazine’s report. “In the long run, advanced active safety technologies in vehicles could make our roads safer. But today, we’re deeply concerned that consumers are being sold a pile of promises about unproven technology.”

Tesla provided Consumer Reports with the following response:

“Tesla is constantly introducing enhancements, proven over millions of miles of internal testing, to ensure that drivers supported by Autopilot remain safer than those operating without assistance. We will continue to develop, validate, and release those enhancements as the technology grows. While we appreciate well-meaning advice from any individual or group, we make our decisions on the basis of real-world data, not speculation by media.”

Consumer Reports’ pronouncements about Tesla throughout the years have been influential. The Model S has topped the magazine’s owner-satisfaction survey. The magazine has given the Model S an off-the-charts rating after a test-drive, saying last August that “Tesla P85D is the best car we’ve tested in 80 years of testing cars.” A couple of months later, however, Tesla shares plunged after the magazine withdrew its recommendation for the Model S, citing questions about its reliability.

After the May 7 crash that resulted in the death of Model S owner Joshua Brown while the car was in Autopilot mode — which is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board — Consumer Reports’ MacCleery says: “Consumers should never be guinea pigs for vehicle safety ‘beta’ programs.”

Earlier this week, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told the Wall Street Journal that his company had no plans to disable Autopilot. The feature, which is turned off by default, was introduced last year and allows for some automatic steering, lane changes and braking. Musk told the Journal that Tesla will be publishing a blog post further explaining how Autopilot works.

 

Photo: The inside of a Tesla vehicle is viewed as it sits parked in a new Tesla showroom and service center in Red Hook, Brooklyn on July 5, 2016 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

 

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  • Vince Cobelo

    Screw consumer reports. Tesla AP is 99% perfect and very safe….I have one. The only way, and I mean the only way AP can be blamed for any accident much less a death is IF the driver is neglegent. No different than if a driver is negligent in other cars or any technology. Time to start taking personal responsibility and quit thinking something has to be flawless before it can be implemented which come to think about it nothing is flawless when human interaction takes place.

    • disqus_wXEnzlLfv6

      It’s that 1% that gets you every time!

  • disqus_wXEnzlLfv6

    Tesla is in a tough spot. CR is very influential to their owners and potential owners. Those owners could probably live with a name change but will revolt if required to keep their hands on the wheel. After all, what good is the system?
    Big exposure if they shut off or revise the system. Many will request refunds.

  • Erocker

    I fly an airplane for a living and I never trust my auto pilot but I still like having it.

  • Geowil

    so because some consumers are retards, Tesla should knee cap their most promising fature in theor software? Fk off CR.

  • Michael Bender

    If I were CR, I would recommend banning all vehicles. 1 person dies in a Tesla. How many people die in Hondas, Fords, Subarus, Chevys, Kenworths, Passenger trains, commercial jetliners, cruise ships, bicycles?

 
 
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