The California Department of Motor Vehicles is reviewing Tesla’s advertising of the FSD feature. Following another incident involving a Tesla ramming into an emergency car, the California DMV decided to take this step.
California DMV to investigate Tesla’s advertising of Full Self Driving
A Tesla running on Autopilot smashed into a deputy's patrol vehicle in Washington state, police say, causing 'significant damage' https://t.co/wZhaNBVTOY
— Business Insider Tech (@BITech) May 18, 2021
This is due to an incident involving a Tesla hitting a deputy’s patrol car parked at the side of the road, near Seattle. The said Tesla was in Autopilot mode when the accident took place. The deputy’s car suffered significant damage due to the incident. However, no loss of life occurred. This incident is the latest in a string of incidents involving Tesla and its controversial FSD feature. Tesla claims that the feature is merely at Level 2 of the Autonomous Driving Levels. This means that its function is to assist the driver. It doesn’t make the car capable of driving itself.
However, due to the rising number of incidents involving Autopilot and FSD, the DMV is conducting a review of Tesla’s advertising of those features. This review is because of the drastic increase in the number of incidents involving Tesla and its Autopilot system. The DMV will check to see whether the Autopilot works as advertised. The concern is that customers are receiving wrong information about how the feature works, leading to such accidents. The DMV aims to clear this out with Tesla and make sure that this is not the case.
The DMV is stepping up its pursuit of such cases. Since March, it has dispatched teams to investigate three such accidents. It follows them very closely and collects data to make sure that they do not miss any important part when it comes to their investigation.
Autopilot and FSD
Tesla launched the Autopilot feature in a software update in October 2015. Since then Tesla has updated the system to increase its functioning. It has gone from parking assist to a feature that allows the car to steer itself, accelerate and brake according to traffic conditions. Tesla maintains that its cars are not capable of driving themselves. However, the Autopilot system requires minimal driver input and is quite capable. The cars can capably drive themselves on freeways and can handle most situations thrown at them. But the recent rise in cases involving Autopilot and its risks is concerning. It has thrown some shade over the utility of the system. Especially if it is going to cost human life.
Tesla Autopilot System
FSD (Full Self Driving) is the biggest step taken by Tesla towards a self-driving car. The FSD feature, still in beta form, can unlock the full potential of the Autopilot feature. The FSD feature shall allow the car to take full control of the steering, the throttle, and the brakes. Using the cameras and data collected, the car can drive itself according to the rules of the road. This feature is supposed to be the thing that helps Tesla to unlock the full abilities of its technology.
While FSD is still in beta form, it is available to all customers who wish to be a part of this beta testing program. Many Tesla owners already are a part of this program. They contribute to the collection of data and help Tesla in improving the FSD feature. It will pioneer self-driving vehicles and will be a step towards the future.
The Tesla FSD system
Problems with Autopilot and FSD
The biggest issue in front of Tesla is the number of incidents taking place when the car is in Autopilot mode. Accidents take place at a rate of 1 accident per 6.74M km (4.18M miles) of Autopilot driving. It is also proving to be a headache for the DMV. This is evidenced in the recent review of the Autopilot advertisements. While Tesla claims that it has not done anything illegal, the usage of Autopilot and FSD by its customers is questionable. To ensure that unsafe practices do not become common, Tesla has applied some safety measures. They include the driver being required to place both hands on the steering wheel or the car stops itself in a safe position. But with owners finding ways to circumvent these measures, Tesla is in a fix.
They cannot stop developing their features. But at the same time, due to the rising number of incidents, the finger points towards them. Tesla can only do so much to increase the safety of its features while developing them simultaneously. The DMV review could pose as a roadblock in Tesla and Elon Musk’s vision of the fully self-driven car. But if they can weather this storm, they should be able to make it happen.