Tesla Engineers Have Admitted That Elon Musk Has Been Exaggerating About Autopilot’s Safety

Nineteen Tesla engineers recently went public with their concerns about the safety of its Autopilot technology, alleging that CEO Elon Musk has been dishonest about the risks to drivers and the general public.

Elon Musk’s EV company, Tesla, was founded on the promise to represent the future of mobility. Much of that promise was centered on Autopilot, a set of functions capable of steering, braking, and accelerating the company’s sleek electric vehicles on highways. However, a number of Tesla’s own engineers have told the New York Times that things aren’t as rosy as their CEO would like you to believe.

Mr Musk has claimed for years that Tesla vehicles are on the cusp of complete autonomy.

“The basic news is that all Tesla vehicles leaving the factory have all the hardware necessary for Level 5 autonomy,” he declared in 2016. The statement surprised and concerned some working on the project since the Society of Automotive Engineers defines Level 5 as full driving automation.

More recently, he stated that new software is now under beta testing by a small number of Tesla owners who purchased the F.S.D. the package will allow cars to drive themselves on city streets and highways. However, just as with Autopilot, Tesla documentation states that drivers must maintain their hands on the wheel at all times and be ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.

Regulators have expressed concern that Tesla and Mr Musk have oversold Autopilot’s sophistication, encouraging some drivers to abuse it. Furthermore, several company engineers have also raised doubts about the autopilot features, and that Musk has outright lied.

“Where I get concerned is the language that’s used to describe the capabilities of the vehicle,” Jennifer Homendy, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said. “It can be very dangerous.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated Tesla after at least 12 accidents where Tesla cars crashed with parked emergency vehicles injuring several people. Consumers are also suing Tesla for causing fatal incidents and misrepresenting Autopilot.

Autopilot isn’t the only source of safety risks. In response to a whistleblower complaint alleging that Tesla failed to disclose fire hazards connected with solar panel system defects to shareholders and the general public, the US Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation.

Even though Tesla is facing dozens of new lawsuits, its Autopilot has long been a show stopper and an important selling feature. However, it is now endangering the entire marketing strategy of the company.

“Mr Musk might exaggerate the capabilities of the company’s technology, but that those statements shouldn’t be taken too seriously,” Amnon Shashua, chief executive of Mobileye, a former Tesla supplier, stated.

“One should not be hung up on what Tesla says. Truth is not necessarily their end goal. The end goal is to build a business,” he added.  

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