Tesla CEO Elon Musk will be focusing on educating customers about semi-autonomous technology instead of disabling the autonomous driving system. Following a fatal crash of a Model S sedan that had the Autopilot system engaged, Musk told The Wall Street Journal that the automaker is planning to publish a blog to explain how it works.
Autopilot involved in several investigations
Earlier, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) made a formal request asking the electric car giant to answer questions about its Autopilot system. The federal agency has opened an investigation to determine the role played by the advanced driver assistance technology in the May 7 crash that killed Joshua Brown. Brown would be the first known fatality connected to the Autopilot feature if the semi-autonomous system is to blame.
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In formal defect investigations, the request for more details is standard. Some of the answers are due by July 29, whereas others are due by August 26.
“A lot of people don’t understand what it is and how you turn it on,” Musk said.
The EV firm is not commenting any further on its plans for Autopilot, said a Tesla spokeswoman.
Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating whether Musk and the EV firm violated securities laws when Musk sold $2 billion worth of shares in mid-May. Musk sold the shares just 11 days after the crash without revealing that a driver had been killed while using Tesla’s autopilot feature.
Tesla reported the crash to the regulators but said nothing to its shareholders, who were informed about the crash six weeks later when federal regulators went public with their investigation.
What could Tesla’s Autopilot do?
Tesla released its semi-autonomous driving system via an over-the-air software update in October. The Autopilot system uses GPS navigation, radar, cameras and ultrasonics. In addition, thanks to machine learning algorithms, the car’s wireless connection, detailed mapping, and sensor data, the Autopilot system is constantly learning.
The first generation of Autopilot included lane changing on highways, steering, an upgraded warning system for side collisions, and computer-assisted parallel parking. A driverless parking feature called Summon was added with a January update to the software. At the time, the electric car maker called Summon its most significant step towards safe fully autonomous cars.
On Tuesday, Tesla shares closed down 0.06% at $224.65. Year to date, the stock is down almost 6%, while in the last year, it is down more than 13%. The stock has a 52-week high of $286.65 and a 52-week low of $141.05.