Tesla has faced a lot of criticism for its Autopilot driver assistance system, with Consumer Reports being the most vocal critic. It called the technology “too much, too soon” and asked Tesla to disable Autopilot’s automated-steering feature. It even said that the name “Autopilot” is misleading and hence should no longer be used.
Tesla 8.0 update is better
Now Tesla is releasing its version 8.0 software upgrade for Autopilot. This update will include changes meant to address the criticisms about its safety. Consumer Reports recently tested Autopilot 8.0 on its own Model S and said it is “better, but still needs improvement.”
With the update, drivers are served with additional warnings from Autopilot to keep their hands on the wheel, which the testers like. Consumer Reports noted that the system now checks more frequently if the drivers have their hands on the wheel or not. Earlier, it issued the first warning to put hands on the wheel after more than three minutes of the driver taking them off, but now it issues its first warning within a minute.
Also the visual warnings from the system have been made more apparent, followed by a loud beep sound. If these are ignored, the Autopilot system will shut off. The driver will then have to pull over and restart the car so to reactivate the system.
Still needs improvement
Consumer Reports agrees that improvements have been made but adds that it still has some issues with the system.
The magazine suggests that the Autopilot system takes too long before issuing the first warning to drivers to put their hands back on the wheel. It again said that the system should not be called Autopilot and noted that Tesla uses the term “public beta” to describe the system, which indicates that it is not finished yet.
Autopilot a “considerable traffic hazard”
Another recent report from Germany’s Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) concluded that Tesla’s Autopilot constitutes a “considerable traffic hazard.” Authors of the German report argue that the Model S should be banned from Germany’s streets. However, Der Spiegel reports that the Transport Minister will most likely ignore this and instead provide Tesla a grant to test Autopilot in Germany.
CEO Elon Musk defended Tesla’s technology against the German report, but at the same time, he praised German lawmakers’ new resolution to ban gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2030.
“Not actually based on science. Objective data shows Autopilot is safer than manually driven cars,” Musk tweeted.