Tesla Cars Don't Need Drivers: Consumer Reports

Following a Texas crash that killed two occupants of a Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) Model S sedan, initial reports from the county constable stated that there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.

In a tweet following the crash, CEO Elon Musk responded to a comment on a Wall Street Journal story about the “driverless” crash: “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD [full self-driving]. Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have.”

On Thursday, Consumer Reports magazine noted “how easy it is to defeat Autopilot’s driver monitoring.” Using the magazine’s own Autopilot-equipped Model Y SUV, Consumer Reports posted a video of a test showing the ease with which a test driver was able to defeat the autopilot system.

Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of auto testing said, “In our evaluation, the system not only failed to make sure the driver was paying attention, but it also couldn’t tell if there was a driver there at all.”

Fisher also noted that Tesla is not keeping up with the latest developments in driver assistance systems: “Tesla is falling behind other automakers like GM and Ford that, on models with advanced driver assist systems, use technology to make sure the driver is looking at the road.”

While Tesla’s vehicles perform well in many of the magazine’s tests, the company needs to pay more attention to driver monitoring. Fisher concluded that Tesla has “changed the EV market and made the idea of owning an EV far more attractive than ever before. But they seem to be using their customers as development engineers as they work on self-driving technologies, and they need to do a better job of keeping them safe.”