Tesla’s Autopilot Recall: Consumer Reports Calls Fix ‘Insufficient’


Consumer Reports has found Tesla’s fix for the Autopilot recall of over 2 million vehicles to be inadequate following initial tests. Kelly Funkhouser, the associate director of vehicle technology at the nonprofit organization, discovered that it is still possible to obstruct the cabin camera while using Autopilot, potentially allowing drivers to bypass one of the car’s main attention-monitoring methods.

Key Takeaway

Tesla’s Autopilot recall fix has been deemed “insufficient” by Consumer Reports due to concerns about the effectiveness of the driver monitoring system, raising questions about the company’s approach to addressing the issue.

Concerns Raised by Consumer Reports

Funkhouser noted that there were no discernible differences when using Autopilot’s flagship feature, Autosteer, outside of controlled-access highways, where Tesla specifies the software should be used. This limited testing has revealed lingering uncertainties about Tesla’s handling of driver monitoring, a critical aspect of the recall.

Upcoming Extensive Testing

Consumer Reports, known for its thorough evaluations of Tesla’s technology and vehicles, plans to conduct more comprehensive testing in the coming weeks. The organization has yet to assess other modifications, such as enhanced visual alerts on the Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV, as it has only received the over-the-air software update on its Model S sedan.

Additional Observations

The newly added suspension policy by Tesla, intended to deactivate Autopilot for one week upon detecting “improper usage,” was not encountered during initial drives by Funkhouser.

Recall Background

The recall, affecting more than 2 million cars in the U.S. and Canada, coincides with a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) focusing on the Autosteer feature’s functionality.

NHTSA’s View

NHTSA expressed concerns about the adequacy of Tesla’s checks to prevent misuse and emphasized the need for additional measures to ensure safe usage of Autosteer.

Uncertainties Persist

Despite Tesla’s claims of increased driver attentiveness requirements and improved camera monitoring in the recent software update, Funkhouser’s tests have raised doubts about the actual impact of these changes, as well as the lack of clarity in Tesla’s communication regarding the modifications.

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