Consumer Reports (CR), the main independent organization in the United States devoted to product testing, said Thursday that Tesla cars could deploy without anyone in the driver’s seat, contradicting the statement by the automaker’s CEO, Elon Musk.
Today CR claimed that its engineers “easily tricked” the Tesla Model Y into its automated driver assistance system to control the car, even though no one was in the driver’s seat.
“In our assessment, not only did the system fail to confirm that the driver was attentive, but it couldn’t perceive the lack of a driver,” said Jake Fisher, CR’s Automotive Test Director on the Consumer Organization’s website.
“Tesla lags behind other manufacturers such as General Motors and Ford who use, in their models equipped with advanced driver assistance systems, technology that ensures that the driver looks at the road,” Fisher added.
On Saturday, two people were killed in Texas when a Tesla Model S car they were traveling in collided with a tree at high speed.
Following the accident, local authorities revealed that the car was traveling without a driver and that at the time of the accident, the deceased was occupying the passenger seat and the back seat.
On Monday, Musk questioned authorities’ statements, saying on Twitter that Tesla’s driver assistance systems were preventing its cars from driving without a driver.
The controversial businessman agreed to a tweet from a netizen indicating that autopilot and fully autonomous driving (FSD) could not operate the car without a driver and stated that their “research is better than that of professionals” from the Wall Street Journal that reported on the Texas accident.
“At this time, the data log shows that the autopilot has not been activated and that this vehicle does not have a FSD,” added Musk.
While Autopilot is standard on all Tesla vehicles, FSD is a service that must be purchased additionally. CR and other organizations decry that despite their names, none of these systems have the true potential to operate a vehicle without a driver.
In the wake of Saturday’s accident, two federal agencies, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as well as local law enforcement authorities, have begun investigations into the causes of the accident.
Both Tesla and Musk have boasted of autopilot capabilities several times. The company expects FSD to be a major source of revenue.