NTSB Boss Tells Elon Musk to Change Tesla’s Autopilot DesignNovember 2, 2021
Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) asks Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, in a letter to change the design of the drive assistant system in Teslas because of increasing misuse by drivers.
Four years ago, NTSB issued guidelines to the manufacturers of autonomous vehicles after a fatal accident that killed a Tesla driver. Tesla is yet to implement two key features that should limit drivers in areas not compatible with the autonomous system. However, Elon Musk and Tesla continue to improve the driverless function of Tesla while ignoring the recommendations from the NTSB.
Elon Musk is yet to respond to the letter. According to the law, NTSB cannot enforce any regulation on automakers; it can only give recommendations. Recently, Tesla has witnessed a spike in the number of accidents due to misuse of the autonomous feature; NTSB has viewed these trends as a concern, prompting the calls for a change. According to the board, Elon Musk and Tesla’s inaction is a deep concern that will only increase the misuse of autonomous functions on American roads, leading to more accidents.
Back in 2017, an accident involving a Tesla and a truck took the attention of the NTSB. The Tesla driver had engaged the autopilot on a roadway not compatible with the driverless system. An incoming truck driver rammed into the Sedan, the Tesla driver, Joshua Brown died on the spot. The system designed at the time could not handle excess periods without engagement by the driver. Brown had thought autopilot meant complete hands-free mode and took his eyes off the road.
NTSB studied the accident and determined the shortcoming of Tesla’s driverless system. The agency ruled that the company needed to improve the system to either shut off or limit drivers in areas it had limitations. The system should also sense the situation of the driver, if less engaged; it should limit the use of the autonomous system.
Though the letter came after the fatal accident involving Tesla, NTSB has extended its calls to other five automakers, with the same demands as those sent to Elon Musk. Elon Musk and Tesla remain the only company to receive the letter and not give a detailed reply on the actions they plan to take to improve driver’s safety.