The timing of the letter is interesting. Yesterday, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced an investigation into the safety of Tesla Autopilot. The package of semi-autonomous driving assistants is said to have played a role in several Tesla collisions with stationary ambulances and police cars.
The name Tesla Autopilot has been criticized for some time (it may not be used in Germany). The designation would be misleading and suggest that the system can do much more than it actually can. Many non-automotive media incorrectly characterize Tesla's as 'self-driving'. That is far from a Tesla, not even with the so-called Full Self-Driving option.
And so two US senators want an official investigation by the stock watchdog FTC into deception. "Tesla's marketing has repeatedly exaggerated the capabilities of its vehicles," they write. "And these claims are a threat to the safety of motorists and other road users."
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"We believe that Tesla Autopilot and the Full Self-Driving option are not as mature and reliable as Tesla would lead the public to believe. On April 22, 2019, Tesla uploaded a video to YouTube entitled 'Full Self-Driving', in which a Tesla Tesla CEO Elon Musk has bragged several times about Tesla's systems. In July 2020 and January 2021, Musk said Tesla's cars will reach Level 5 autonomy very soon."
And that claim is incorrect. Even Tesla has brushed off Musk's comments as nonsense. However, the problem, according to the senators, is that Tesla and Musk's messages are reaching a huge audience. "The Full Self-Driving video has been viewed 18 million times. And that while Tesla hides the disclaimers about Autopilot and Full Self-Driving somewhere deep on its website. The link below the video points to a sales page, on which no nuanced information is given. about the true capabilities of the car."
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