Is Tesla Autopilot Safer After Update?

We continues to monitor the evolving story concerning Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assistance system and its impact on road safety. In December 2023, Tesla was compelled to issue software updates to over 2 million vehicles equipped with Autopilot.

Tesla Autopilot Safer

This action followed a rigorous two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into numerous collisions (hundreds reported) and fatalities (dozens documented) linked to the driver-assistance technology. However, a recent NHTSA filing revealed concerning developments. The agency expressed “several concerns,” indicating that Tesla’s update may not have sufficiently addressed the safety issues.

Adding fuel to the fire, the NHTSA issued a scathing report in April 2024. The report found that drivers using Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” add-on were concerningly disengaged, and Tesla did not implement adequate safeguards to guarantee driver attentiveness while the system was in use.

A Tesla Model 3 vehicle drives on autopilot along the 405 highway in Westminster, California, U.S., March 16, 2022.
Furthermore, the NHTSA initiated a fresh investigation into Tesla’s purported fix, demanding more comprehensive data to assess its effectiveness. This data includes telemetry from crashes involving both Tesla Autopilot and Full Self-Driving functionalities. The NHTSA identified at least 20 post-update crashes involving Tesla vehicles, with nine specifically involving collisions with stationary objects.

Beyond the NHTSA’s scrutiny, the Department of Justice has launched its own investigation. The focus here is on potential securities and wire fraud charges, stemming from allegations that Tesla misled investors with exaggerated claims about the self-driving capabilities of its technology.

Tesla paints a misleading Crash Data Story

As we navigate the future of autonomous driving, prioritizing safety and environmental responsibility must be paramount. Tesla and the entire industry must proactively implement these technologies with robust safeguards and ensure clear communication about their limitations.

Reference- The Verge, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Reuters, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)