Tesla Doesn’t Need A Driver Says US Report

Fri 23rd Apr 2021

One week after a fatal crash in which investigators claim that the Tesla was operating on Autopilot, a major US consumer group says it has gathered evidence that the pioneering electric vehicle can operate without a driver.

Testers from Consumer Reports say they have made the Tesla Model Y perform a range of maneuvers on a closed track, all with an empty driver’s seat, despite Tesla arguing to the contrary.

The semi-automated driving system which Tesla uses has courted controversy and is the subject of 28 crash investigations according to America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Tesla claimed last year that the vehicle’s technology can recognise when a driver is not in control of the vehicle and the steering wheel monitoring is so sensitive that it can recognise “a limp hand on the wheel from a sleepy driver will not work, nor will the coarse hand pressure of a person with impaired motor controls, such as a drunk driver."

But the Consumer Reports test challenges that assertion and backs evidence that the car is capable of driving with very little driver input.

"In our evaluation, the system not only failed to make sure the driver was paying attention, but it also couldn't tell if there was a driver there at all," said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' senior director of auto testing, who conducted the experiment.

"Tesla is falling behind other automakers like GM and Ford that, on models with advanced driver assist systems, use technology to make sure the driver is looking at the road."