Consumer groups call on feds to investigate Tesla's Autopilot

July 27, 2019

Consumer groups reignited calls to open a probe into Tesla's Autopilot system and accused the Silicon Valley-based automaker of using deceptive practices to market the system as a fully autonomous.

The Center for Auto Safety leads the charge and said Thursday it will press the Federal Trade Commission to take action. The CAS called on the FTC to investigate Tesla's practices a year ago, and the safety group said more Americans have died and been injured since then. 

Tesla Autopilot suite of features - with version 7.0 update

Tesla Autopilot suite of features - with version 7.0 update

The CAS, along with other groups, have also called on state attorneys general to look into the company's misleading promotions of Autopilot.

"Tesla has consistently and deceptively hyped its technology, it is time for regulators to step in and protect the public," said Adam Scow, senior advocate for Consumer Watchdog. "Tesla has irresponsibly marketed its technology as safety enhancing, when instead it is killing people."

Tesla Autopilot 2 Perpendicular Park

Tesla Autopilot 2 Perpendicular Park

An IIHS study showed Tesla's Autopilot system created the most confusion with consumers and led them to believe it was entirely safe to take their hands off of the steering wheel at any time. Autopilot is a Level 2 self-driving system on the SAE's autonomy scale. The scale tops out at Level 5, which is full autonomy in every situation. Level 2 systems require drivers to still be entirely hands-on as the technology only works in various situations and needs to hand back controls to the driver often. Other examples of Level 2 systems include Cadillac's Super Cruise and Nissan ProPilot Assist.

The CAS wants the FTC to open a formal investigation into Tesla and its language surrounding Autopilot to ensure consumers have the knowledge and understand the system's vast limitations.

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