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Consumers Union: Alarming NTSB report reinforces why Tesla must fix flaws in “Autopilot” system

Friday, June 8, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today made the following statement after the National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report on the fatal March crash of a Tesla Model X with the “Autopilot” driver-assist system engaged in Mountain View, California. In monitoring the marketplace, Consumer Reports has found that some driver-assist systems are safer than others.

David Friedman, Director of Cars and Product Policy and Analysis for Consumers Union, said, “While there is still much to learn from the NTSB investigation, this alarming report reinforces why Tesla must respond immediately to previous concerns raised about its driver-assist system. This crash, like others under investigation, demonstrates that Tesla’s system can’t dependably navigate common road situations on its own, and fails to keep the driver engaged exactly when it is needed most. Tesla has demonstrated it can quickly address safety concerns. It should show again that it can do so by fixing its driver-assist system without delay.

“Even when it works as designed, Tesla’s driver-assist system is allowed to operate under situations where it cannot reliably sense, verify, and react to its surroundings in a safe manner. Plus, the system makes it too easy for human drivers to disengage from the driving task. These risks have been clear for a while now, and have already been the subject of previous NTSB findings. Tesla hasn’t made sufficient changes to its system to address the NTSB’s concerns, and also has never provided detailed data to the public demonstrating the conditions in which Autopilot can safely operate.

“It’s far past time for Tesla to step up and show how truly innovative it can be when it comes to putting safety first. In light of past crashes and the information released by the NTSB, Tesla should once and for all stop using consumers as beta testers for unproven technology.”