Is Tesla Playing a Dangerous Game by Putting Autonomous Features in Consumers' Hands?
Tesla is forging ahead with its autonomous driving features in spite of several doubts raised by safety advocates about whether the automaker’s technology is ready for primetime. According to a news report in The Washington Post, an industry coalition consisting of General Motors’ Cruise, Ford, Uber and Waymo among others, has criticized the move by Tesla saying that its vehicles are not “truly autonomous” because they still require an active, human driver.
Is Tesla’s Tech Road-Ready?
Self-driving has not been fully regulated in the United States. Therefore, Tesla does not need governmental authorization to launch this new feature. A point of contention among Tesla’s critics is that the company is moving ahead without an important piece of hardware. Nearly all autonomous car makers have embraced “lidar sensors,” which are placed on the outside of vehicles and can detect precise size, shape and depth of objects in real time, even in inclement weather.
But, Tesla is attempting to achieve a fully autonomous driving vehicle with a bunch of cameras and a type of radar. While Tesla’s technology can detect vehicles, pedestrians and some objects such as trees, it’s been proven time and again that its system cannot always see the true shape or depth of the obstacles it encounters. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has criticized the lidar as expensive and redundant and has vowed never to use it.
The other issue is that while companies such as Waymo have been testing their vehicles in controlled pilot programs, Tesla has decided to put its technology into the hands of consumers. This means that they are essentially using drivers and consumers as test subjects. Several Tesla owners have already received the update.
Potential Dangers to Public Safety
Videos posted on social media show cars navigating residential streets and even making turns on their own – something the cars were not equipped to do before. In one clip, a car struggled to navigate a roundabout. But Tesla drivers have been thrilled about how they are able to set their cars to take them to a location such as a Target store. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has responded to Tesla’s new features by saying it will not hesitate to take action to protect the public against “unreasonable risks to safety.”
Our auto defect lawyers are extremely concerned about Tesla’s new so-called autonomous features. They have yet to answer for car accidents and mishaps related to their semi-autonomous Autopilot feature. These new fully autonomous features could be a disaster, especially if they haven’t been properly vetted. It is absolutely unacceptable for a car company to use consumers and the public as their personal test subjects.