Years ago I gave presentations demonstrating how Tesla’s “Autopilot” was ranked dead last by industry experts. NVidia in particular, the real brains behind some of the most advanced and best driver assist options, rated Tesla engineering far behind every other car brand.
It looks like the general public has finally caught up to technologists, as Consumer Reports deservedly dumped the Tesla product down to seventh place behind far more ethical and capable EV companies.
“After all this time, Autopilot still doesn’t allow collaborative steering and doesn’t have an effective driver monitoring system,” said Consumer Reports Auto Testing director Jake Fisher in a statement.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 830,000 Tesla vehicles with Autopilot after a series of crashes with parked emergency vehicles.
NHTSA is reviewing whether Tesla vehicles adequately ensure drivers are paying attention. In June, the agency said evidence suggested drivers in most crashes with emergency vehicles under review had complied with Tesla’s alert strategy that seeks to compel driver attention, raising questions about its effectiveness.
NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said earlier this month the agency was “working really fast” on its Autopilot probe. “We’re moving as quickly as we can, but we also want to be careful and make sure we have all the information we need,” she said.
In 2020, the National Transportation Safety Board criticized Tesla’s “ineffective monitoring of driver engagement” after a 2018 fatal Autopilot crash.
Autopilot enables cars to steer, accelerate and brake within their lanes without driver intervention but Tesla says the feature requires “active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”
NHTSA has separately opened more than three dozen Tesla special crash investigations where advanced systems including Autopilot were suspected of being used with 19 crash deaths reported.
It’s not just that Tesla was dumped down to seventh place, it’s that 10 out of 10 Autopilot deaths are Tesla and their fatality rate is rising fast. For example Nissan didn’t even have one single crash to report, despite over 600,000 vehicles operating its direct competitor to Autopilot.