Tesla Inc has defended the safety benefits of its advanced driver assistance system Autopilot and its Full Self-Driving (FSD) capability but has admitted that they require “constant monitoring and attention of the driver.”
Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey wrote Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk in Feb highlighted “significant concerns” about the electric-car maker’s Autopilot and FSD systems that have been on the radar.
In a previously unreported March 4 letter to the senators, Tesla’s senior director, public policy, and business development Rohan Patel, said the features enhance the ability of its customers “to drive safer than the average driver in the U.S.”
Patel noted that both systems “require the constant monitoring and attention of the driver.” Tesla vehicles can perform “some but not all of the Dynamic Driving Tasks” that can be performed by human drivers, he added.
According to its website, Tesla’s Autopilot features steer, accelerate, and brake automatically and “require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”
Blumenthal and Markey said, “just more evasion and deflection from Tesla. Despite its troubling safety track record and deadly crashes, the company seemingly wants to carry on with business as usual.”
Patel said that the company “understands the importance of educating owners on the capabilities of Autopilot and FSD Capability.”
Autopilot allows drivers to keep their hands off the wheel at times, but its torque-based hands-on-wheel detection helps ensure drivers remain attentive.
Tesla has extended the FSD deployment to 60,000 users. However, it has led to a plethora of safety concerns.
Tesla is undergoing several investigations. The senators said in their letter the “complaints and investigations paint a troubling picture: Tesla repeatedly releases software without fully considering its risks and implications, creating grave dangers for all on the roads.”
In January, Tesla agreed to recall about 54,000 U.S. vehicles to revise software to prevent vehicles from disregarding stop signs.