How Tesla Can Sell “Fully Autonomous Driving” Software That Doesn’t Really Drive By Itself
Still, there are currently no self-driving cars for sale, according to autonomous vehicle experts and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates cars. Tesla’s “fully autonomous driving” is more like improved cruise control, they say.
Tesla says that a the human driver must be vigilant and ready to take over at any time, and the company allows initial access to the system only to those whom it considers the safest drivers.
Despite these limitations, Tesla is free to call its technology “fully autonomous driving”. Tesla owners who download the “fully autonomous driving” beta should check a box confirming that they understand they are responsible for staying alert with their hands on the wheel and should be prepared to take action at all times. âFull self-drivingâ doesn’t make their car self-sufficient, she says.
A person who purchases a Tesla vehicle from their website views the technology described in large print as “fully autonomous driving,” but the small print below indicates that the technology is driver assistance technology. Driver assistance technologies are designed to help a human drive safer, with features like forward collision warning, blind spot warning and lane departure warning systems .
The U.S. government does not have performance standards for automated driver assistance technologies, Reimer said. Tesla or any automaker can basically do whatever they want when it comes to these technologies.
“We are at the mercy of automakers to put in place safe systems. We depend on drivers who want to avoid risks,” Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety, told CNN Business. “The combination of these two is a perfect storm for future disasters.”
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment and does not generally engage with professional news media.
âWhen drivers’ expectations exceed the capabilities of their vehicle, serious and fatal accidents can result,â they wrote.
The Federal Trade Commission, which is responsible for protecting consumers from deceptive or unfair marketing practices, declined to tell CNN Business why it has taken no action against Tesla. The FTC also said it did not comment on whether it opened any investigations, a spokesperson said.
Choosing the wrong technology
NHTSA and Congress, which can push the agency to regulate specific things, have missed an opportunity to focus on driver assistance technologies in recent years, according to autonomous driving experts and the law.
âIt’s taking a lot of steps forward as we’re not tackling what could save lives right now,â Chase said.
Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina Law School, said European regulators are way ahead of the United States in regulating driver assistance technology. Smith said technologies like pedestrian detection and automatic braking are sensitive to mandate on new cars, and there should be performance standards for them.
âThere is fruit at hand,â Smith said. “We could be saving lives much sooner than we have self-driving cars.”