NTSB criticizes Tesla Autopilot for tougher self-driving standards


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pushing for the US government to impose stricter requirements for the design and deployment of automated driving systems, citing confusion over You’re hereit is (NASDAQ: TSLA) Autopilot as an example of why more stringent requirements are needed.

The NTSB, in a comment letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cited Tesla’s willingness to test unproven software on public roads as evidence that the rules need to be clarified and tightened. The letter, dated February 1, was first reported by CNBC on Friday.

The NTSB letter said in part: “Tesla is testing a highly automated system on public roads [autonomous vehicle] technology, but with limited monitoring or reporting requirements. Although Tesla includes a disclaimer that “currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle self-driving,” NHTSA’s hands-off approach to AV test monitoring poses a risk. potential for motorists and other road users”.

Tesla’s marketing of its Autopilot features has long been the target of criticism. The company sells a $10,000 package that it markets as “fully self-driving,” though the vehicle’s manual stresses the systems shouldn’t be deployed without the driver remaining alert.

Image source: Tesla.

Autonomous vehicles and electrification are the two big trends in the automobile industry right now, and clear rules would help determine the capabilities and limitations of not only Tesla vehicles, but also developments from other automakers. Currently, the federal government leaves it mostly to the states to write guidelines on autonomous driving.

The NTSB and NHTSA are both part of the US Department of Transportation. The NTSB is responsible for investigating accidents and potential defects, while the NHTSA is responsible for enforcing vehicle recalls and publishing standards.

In separate news Friday, Tesla was sued by an investor claiming CEO Elon Musk exposed the company to billions in potential liability and market losses due to his continued “erratic” tweets. In 2018, Musk reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission calling on the company to adopt strict oversight procedures to govern its social media activity. But the lawsuit says Musk continued to tweet with little to no apparent oversight.

The lawsuit cites Musk’s May 2020 post that suggested Tesla shares were overvalued as an example of his questionable conduct.

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