Tesla urged to amend misleading ‘Autopilot’ name by US senator

Senator Ed Markey has called on Tesla to revise its approach to its Autopilot technology. The politician feels that the electronic vehicles aren’t autonomous enough to be classified as this.

Tesla Autopilot
Tesla is under fire from United States officials. Photo: Tesla

Official statement

In a publication on Markey’s official webpage, he states that he has already spoken with Tesla about these issues. The underlying concern is that the system is not meant to actually replace drivers as Tesla requires users to keep their hands on the wheel and keep engaged.

However, drivers are finding ways to work around the requirements by strategically tricking the system to think that hands are at the wheel. This then allows them to fall asleep, creating potentially dangerous situations.

“Autopilot is a flawed system, but I believe its dangers can be overcome,” said Senator Markey, as shared on his webpage.

“I have been proud to work with Tesla on advancing cleaner, more sustainable transportation technologies. But these achievements should not come at the expense of safety.

“That’s why I’m calling on Tesla to use its resources and expertise to better protect drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and all other users of the road.”

Tesla Model S
Tesla has not been shy to defend itself regarding the claims. Photo: Tesla

Ongoing communications

The senator previously wrote to Tesla. The company then replied by saying that it shares Markey’s commitment to increase occupant safety and to reduce fatalities on roads within the United States. It also holds a belief to develop active safety features that promote responsible driving habits.

However, Tesla felt that there were some misperceptions about their product. Therefore, the letter led to a meeting between the two, which allowed Markey to identify fixes. He hopes these can improve the safety of the vehicles and reduce the risk of disengaging drivers with the road.

Following the meeting, Markey went on to state that he urges Tesla to rebrand and remarket the system to reduce misuse. He also wants the company to introduce backup driver monitoring tools to ensure that no driver falls asleep at the wheel. The senator concluded that Tesla can and must do more to guarantee safety.

Wider issues

This is not the first recent report calling for Elon Musk’s company to take another look at its technology to improve safety. Earlier this week, it denied claims that some of its electric vehicles are prone to accelerating unintentionally.

Model 3
Models S, X, and 3 are reportedly affected by the acceleration glitch. Photo: Tesla

The statement followed 127 customer complaints that were submitted to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The claims state that there was unintended acceleration in several potentially harmful incidents.

Altogether, Tesla usually does undertake serious measures to enable its products to be safe and secure. However, the public depends on the firm to keep the roads safe. Therefore, it needs to be continuously scrutinized.

It is the role of politicians to question large corporations to ensure that they deliver a trustworthy product. Hopefully, Tesla can take these considerations on and continue on improving its products.

Do you think Senator Markey is right to urge Tesla to change the way it promotes Autopilot technology? Let us know what your thoughts are in the comment section.

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