Consumer Reports said on some closed road trips with the driver’s seat empty, its Tesla Model Y automatically drives along painted lines in the lane without realizing that no one is at the controls.
Consumer Reports said Thursday they could easily trick a Tesla into driving in its Autopilot mode without anyone driving.
Its tests came just days after a Tesla crashed in Texas, killing two men on board. Authorities said none of the men were in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.
Tesla’s Autopilot partial automation system can keep a car in the middle of its lane, keep a distance from the cars in front and can even change lanes on its own with the consent of the driver. vehicle. But Tesla has said that drivers must be ready to intervene at all times.
Consumer Reports said on some closed road trips with the driver’s seat empty, its Tesla Model Y automatically drives along painted lines in the lane without realizing that no one is at the controls. The Tesla that crashed outside Houston over the weekend was the Model S, but also had an Autopilot function.
“In our opinion, the system not only cannot ensure the driver is paying attention, but also cannot tell if a driver is there,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing. by Consumer Reports, said. has been tested. “Tesla is lagging other automakers like GM and Ford, on models with advanced driver assistance systems that use technology to make sure the driver is looking at the road.”
Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, and disbanded its press office, did not immediately respond to questions about Consumer Reports’ assertion.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are in the early stages of an investigation into the Texas crash. One man was found in the passenger seat, while another was in the back, local authorities said. The car crashed off the road, crashed into a tree and caught fire, authorities said.
Investigators can determine if Tesla’s autonomous driving system is in use.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter on Monday that the “recovered so far” data logs showed that Autopilot was not turned on in the crash in Texas and that “Full Self-Driving” did not purchased for the vehicle. He did not answer questions from reporters posted on Twitter.
In the past, NHTSA, the authority that regulates automakers and seeks to recall defective vehicles, has taken a coherent approach to regulating partially and fully automated systems because fear of hindering the development of promising new features.
But since March, the agency has increased requests for Tesla, dispatching teams to three incidents. It has investigated 28 Tesla crashes over the past few years, but has so far relied on voluntary safety compliance from auto and tech companies.
Also on Thursday, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey asked federal officials to conduct a thorough investigation of the crash in Texas and make recommendations to improve self-driving. moving.
On a test by Consumer Reports, Fisher said he used the Autopilot feature while the car was moving on the track, then set the speed dial to zero to stop it. Fisher then attached a small weight chain on the steering wheel to simulate the weight of the rider. Then he slid into the front passenger seat, where he could speed up and slow down the car.
“The car went back and forth in our half-mile lane, again and again, never noticing that no one was in the driver’s seat, never noticing that no one touched the steering wheel, never notice that there is no weight on the chair. , ”Said Fisher. “It was a bit appalling when we realized how easy it was to defeat defenses, which we proved was not enough.”
The Consumer Report notes that the test was done in its closed process and “in any case no one should try” to reproduce it.
“Let me be clear: Anyone using the Autopilot on the road without a driver in the driver’s seat will put themselves and others in imminent danger,” Fisher said.