U.S. Advocacy Group Calls For Tesla To Fix Autopilot Flaws

A consumer advocacy group in the United States says Tesla needs to fix flaws in its Autopilot driver-assistance system following a fatal crash in California, Reuters reports.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently concluded that the driver of a 2017 Model X, Walter Huang, had Autopilot activated when the vehicle smashed into a crash attenuator and concrete barrier.

The system had provided the 38-year old with two visual alerts and one auditory alert that he must place his hands on the steering wheel. However, the last of these alerts came 15 minutes before the crash. Huang’s hands were not on the wheel in the six seconds before the impact.

Moreover, the NTSB found out that the vehicle had sped up from 62 mph (100 km/h) to 71 mph (114 km/h) in the final three seconds.

In response, director of Cars and Product Policy and Analysis for Consumers Union, David Friedman, said Tesla needs to address underlying problems with the system.

“[The NTSB’s] alarming report reinforces why Tesla must respond immediately to previous concerns raised about its driver-assist system.

“[The crash] demonstrates that Tesla’s system can’t dependably navigate common road situations on its own, and fails to keep the driver engaged exactly when it is needed most.”

Huang’s family lawyer, Mark Fong, asserts “there was a failure of both the Tesla Autopilot and the automatic braking systems of the car.”

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  • aaronbbrown

    Car looks like it was hit by a hellfire missile. Tesla batteries go up like a bomb whenever they are damaged, or they get wet.

    And the batteries sit directly underneath the passenger compartment, They are definitely not safer than gasoline powered cars.

    • S3XY


      • Daniela Wolf

        Are u sure about that!

      • Smith

        Tesla employees are now trolls. Really, how about spending you time working on building better cars that don’t kill people as easily, rather than making stupid comments on blogs.

    • TheBelltower

      In a 70mph collision into a concrete wall, perhaps. Gas vehicles just burst into flames randomly in peoples’ garages.

      • Alfa Giulia QV

        Still better than the batteries catching on fire and reigniting multiple times after being extinguished,

  • Maher

    Start by changing the name. I was watching a review about Tesla cars a few days ago, and the reviewer summed it up perfectly, Autopilot is no where near close to being a fully self driving solution, so it shouldn’t carry a name that implies it is.

    • S3XY

      Commercial Airplanes use Autopilot and they do not fully fly by themselves.

      Tesla has never claimed Autopilot to be “fully” self driving. We are not there yet, but will be one day.

      You should educate yourself better.

      • Maher

        Yeah, because commercial airplane’s pilots are the same as your average middle aged Tesla driver. One that has spent half of his life studying to drive an airplane and know every switch and software’s function, vs someone who watched a commercial about a car driving itself and thought it’s cool if he had one for himself.

        You should educate yourself better 😉

      • ProtectOurHeritage

        To get a commercial pilots licence you need to pass thirteen written exams, pass a medical, complete up to two months of ground training and need more than 1,500 hours of flight experience.

        Are you suggesting Tesla drivers need something similar to operate their vehicles correctly?

      • Jds65

        you sound like a child with that comment

        • ProtectOurHeritage

          S3XY seems to have a mental age of five so fits nicely with the typical Tesla customer.

        • brn

          S3XY makes a statement of fact and you return with an insult? S3XY isn’t the one that sounds like a child.

      • Spyder Hole Fantome

        You’re by far one of the biggest Tesla fanboys on this site. How has Tesla not hired you yet to fix everything???

        • Matthew Daraei

          One of the? He is the only Tesla fan here. The rest of Tesla fans in CS, are his/her fake multiple accounts.

      • Smith

        You are the one who needs educating. As a Tesla employee you should be more respectful of customers opinions and you should understand the difference between perception and reality, perception IS reality. The perception that Tesla has created and refuses to correct, is that the Autopilot is just that, like the autopilot in an airplane, where the pilot does very little. You should also be aware that an airline pilot has many hours of training and extensive understanding of the systems in an airplane. A consumer buying a car does not have much understanding and the perception of the Autopilot system is that it is just that, an Autopilot system, like in a plane where the autopilot flies the plane with minimal or no pilot interaction. That is the perception and therefore that is the reality, the name is misleading and Tesla should respond by changing the name rather than just being arrogant that it does not matter.

  • ProtectOurHeritage

    Looks like the NTSB has got it right!

    Elon’s fantasy project needs to sort itself by ensuring Tesla drivers fully understand what the “Autopilot” system is and isn’t capable of, or if Tesla are unable to do that, then they need to remove Autopilot as a feature altogether.

    • Jay

      What are you talking about. It’s all in the instructions. They mention you still have to pay attention and in most cases people do not do that.

      • ProtectOurHeritage

        That’s all very well saying that but these losers are not just killing themselves, they are also putting everyone else’s lives at risk. This CANNOT continue. Tesla must act before the government does.

        If Tesla drivers can’t be trusted to use their vehicles properly and Tesla does nothing about it, I guess the state will have to go as far as forcing Autopilot users to pass extra tests and hold an additional licence to cover it drivers using this type of technology.

        • S3XY

          Majority of drivers puts their lives at risk every day by looking down at their phones while driving.

          Over exaggerate much.

          I just drove over 10 miles on Autopilot yesterday and here I am typing this comment.

          Autopilot works exactly how it’s suppose to. It’s a personal choice if you want to misuse it.

          • ProtectOurHeritage

            I don’t believe for one second you actually have a Tesla, you seem to act and write like a deluded fanboy.

            However, your comment was fairly interesting as it appears misusing Autopilot is as dangerous as using a mobile phone at the wheel? You really are building a case for the government to ensure Tesla removes it from their vehicles!

          • Smith

            You are so wrong, but as a Tesla employee it is not surprising that you make such stupid comments. Drivers put their lives at risk driving cars, you are right, but when that car has a software package that is written to increase that risk without the drivers knowledge, then that is just illegal and immoral. If the Tesla Autopilot system works as it is supposed to, then why did Tesla program it to accelerate before the accident, that makes no sense. And the term Autopilot implies something very different and should be changed. Hope you make it to work everyday using Autopilot, good luck with that!

        • Jay

          Humans already cause deadly accidents without autopilot. Tesla has done their job warning people how to use it. There’s no safe way to enforce it without removing the feature altogether. That also won’t help them improve it either as it needs real life to learn. Requiring them to have a license sounds good on paper but I don’t see that working. Way too many other variables to consider.

          • ProtectOurHeritage

            “Humans already cause deadly accidents without autopilot”.
            True. They are held accountable for them too. If something starts becoming a serious issue, then legislation changes to combat that. Just like the rise in cell phone related accidents meant stricter laws and penalties for those using them behind the wheel.

            It sounds like you think Tesla have done their job and that should be it? Its almost like you think these accidents are acceptable? You are wrong and probably in for a big shock if this trend in Autopilot accidents continue.

          • Jay

            No I wish they would stop with the autonomous crap all together. This is me accepting the government for being stupid and allowing it in the first place.

  • Alfa Giulia QV

    IMO, I think most of the blame goes to the drivers. They need to stop relying too heavily on the system; pay attention to the road ahead of them, and if the warning systems tell you to take control of the vehicle, do it.

  • GobbleUp

    I’ve owned my Tesla for 3 years, and not one day in service.

    I tested autopilot pre and post big updates after purchasing the car and decided autopilot is a beta project, not ready for the real world yet. Even with serious focus and attention and hands lightly resting on the wheel, autopilot was dangerous in several instances. No reason to risk life until the day it’s perfected, including our roads and infrastructure. Until then, I contend it is unnecessary and foolish to use.

  • Six_Tymes

    But this “consumer advocacy group”, is going after Uber? wait, what?!

  • Carman

    What’s worrying is that it sped up almost 9 mph (3 sec) right before impact. It definitely was not the driver so the software is still flawed. Who knows if the software steered the car into the barrier by itself in the last few seconds regardless of what the driver was doing.

    Tesla is not a profit generating car company and is still learning how to be a car company. Its value proposition still makes no sense. Why would you pay over $100K for a car to save gas? If you want value and electric, get a Leaf. BUT we have to thank the first adopters for funding this technology and infrastructure, and to help Tesla figure itself out.

    • Jds65

      “thank first adopters” lol.You mean the lab rats.

    • Status

      To play the devils advocate, nobody is buying any Tesla as a value proposition. They’d buy a Leaf’s for that.

      But you’re right, nobody would pay over $100K for a car to save gas. Tesla, collectively, is being marketed as a status symbol. The cars being electric is just a side-effect, and no Nissan Leaf is going to have that much clout.

  • drc

    I think most the people commenting on the Tesla system have probably never driven one. I have and used it extensively. It works pretty well, but I would never let it “control” the car while i read texts on my phone. The cameras that run it key off lane markings and it runs off a preset speed the operator programs into the car. That’s why it sped up, it has clear road and was going to accelerate to the preset. If the lane markings in the area of the crash (construction zone, etc) and gone or suddenly widen up – the vehicle centers to last know edges and keeps going. It didn’t emergency brake because it didn’t “see” the barrier – a crash a couple of days before in that location took out the marked barrels so there was no contrast for the cameras. I do agree – they should change the name and not call it “Autopilot” because what is really is (doesn’t sound as sexy) is Cruise Control Assist.

  • Spyder Hole Fantome

    I agree!!!

  • Spyder Hole Fantome

    It’s the same to him.

  • Sébastien

    This is a weird interpretation of the findings:
    If the guy set speed to 75mph, why blame the car trying to obey?
    He had his hands on the wheel 7s before the event, would everyone prefer a beep as quickly as that?

    Agree it needs a lot of improvements, but nothing real listed here

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