Consumer Reports is calling on Tesla to temporarily deactivate and rename its Autopilot system following a handful of accidents which have been blamed on the technology.
In a lengthy post entitled "Tesla's Autopilot: Too Much Autonomy Too Soon," Consumer Reports says the fatal Model S accident which claimed the life of Joshua Brown has caused the publication to "question whether the name Autopilot, as well as the marketing hype of its roll-out, promoted a dangerously premature assumption that the Model S was capable of truly driving on its own."
Tesla warns drivers that the system still requires their attention but Consumer Reports says this message could cause confusion as the company is effectively saying the car can drive itself but you may need to take over at a moment’s notice.
The publication goes on to say many automakers are introducing semi-autonomous driving technology but "Tesla has been uniquely aggressive in its deployment." Consumer Reports also takes issue with the fact that Tesla is the only manufacturer that allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel for a significant amount of time - up to three minutes in its testing.
According to Consumer Reports' vice president of consumer policy and mobilization, Laura MacCleery, "In the long run, advanced active safety technologies in vehicles could make our roads safer. But today, we're deeply concerned that consumers are being sold a pile of promises about unproven technology." MacCleery went on to say "Autopilot can't actually drive the car, yet it allows consumers to have their hands off the steering wheel for minutes at a time." As a result, the publication is calling on Tesla to disable Autopilot until the system is updated to require the driver keeps their hands on the wheel.
MacCleery went on to slam Tesla for using drivers as "guinea pigs" in a beta program and noted automakers "must commit immediately to name automated features with descriptive—not exaggerated—titles." She went on to say companies shouldn't roll out new features until they are absolutely certain they are safe.
Tesla rebuffed the criticism and advice as it noted "we make our decisions on the basis of real-world data, not speculation by media.”
Source: Consumer Reports