KEY POINTS

  • CR has not yet independently tested the FSD Beta 9 update
  • Suggests Tesla introduce in-car driver monitoring systems
  • Others on the road are unaware of being part of an experiment

Tesla’s "Full Self-Driving" software raises concerns that the autopilot system’s use on public roads puts at risk pedestrians, cyclists and other car drivers who are unaware that they are part of an experiment, Consumer Reports (CR) said. 

Earlier in July, Tesla released its FSD Beta 9 version to Tesla owners who have purchased the FSD option access. It enables drivers to use several of Autopilot’s advanced driver-assist features on local and non-highway streets, The Verge reported

"Videos of FSD beta 9 in action don’t show a system that makes driving safer or even less stressful," Jake Fisher, senior director of CR’s Auto Test Center, said. "Consumers are simply paying to be test engineers for developing technology without adequate safety protection."

Social media videos of Tesla drivers trying the updated FSD Beta 9 software show the vehicles missing turns, heading towards parked cars and scraping against bushes. 

The analysis also alludes to Elon Musk’s cautious remark on Twitter that the "Beta 9 addresses most known issues, but there will be unknown issues, so please be paranoid."

"Tesla just asking people to pay attention isn’t enough—the system needs to make sure people are engaged when the system is operational," said Fisher. "We already know that testing developing self-driving systems without adequate driver support can—and will—end in fatalities," he added. 

Fisher recommends that Tesla use an in-car driver monitoring system to make sure that drivers have their eyes on the road to avoid accidents.

CR has not yet tested the software independently and plan to do as soon as its Model Y receives the Beta 9 update.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the autopilot was involved in at least three Tesla vehicle crashes in the U.S. since 2016, reported Reuters.

In June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a standing general order that requires manufacturers and operators of vehicles with automated driving systems to report crashes. 

"NHTSA’s core mission is safety. By mandating crash reporting, the agency will have access to critical data that will help quickly identify safety issues that could emerge in these automated systems," Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s acting administrator, said. "In fact, gathering data will help instill public confidence that the federal government is closely overseeing the safety of automated vehicles." 

Tesla saw record car deliveries in the second quarter despite a semiconductor shortage Tesla | Representational Image Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB