A report by the Federal Highway Research Institute of Germany’s Transport Ministry obtained by the German magazine Der Spiegel was highly critical of Tesla’s Autopilot semi autonomous driving system.
Safety experts tested a Tesla Model S Autopilot system and according to the report it represents a “considerable traffic hazard.”
The report criticized the system on a number of points the magazine reported last Friday.
Pointed out was drivers are not alerted by the Autopilot system when the vehicle gets into a situation that the computer cannot solve.
Additionally, the system doesn’t detect far enough rearward when overtaking another vehicle, and the emergency brake system performs insufficiently.
The transport ministry told Reuters that the results were part of a larger evaluation of Autopilot and the report is not yet finished.
In rebuttal, the web site Electrek said the tests may not be entirely fair as the ministry appeared to test Autopilot as a fully self-driving system, which it said it is not.
Tesla quickly issued a statement of its own in an attempt to clarify how the company’s most contentious feature is intended to be operated.
“Autopilot is a suite of technologies that operate in conjunction with the human driver to make driving safer and less stressful,” the carmaker said, adding that its use of the term is synonymous to that of the aviation industry’s usage — “to denote a support system that operates under the direct supervision of a human pilot.”
To emphasize the safeguards in place to ensure the driver remains alert, Tesla’s statement read, “Before enabling Autopilot, the driver first needs to agree to ‘keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times’ and to always ‘maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle.’
Introduced in September 2014, Tesla’s Autopilot has become the center of attention after several reports of accidents surfaced, with one resulting in a fatality last July.
Germany safety officials aren’t the only ones with eyes on Autopilot. Earlier last week California made a move to stop Tesla from using the term Autopilot.
The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles issued a draft regulation that would prohibit Tesla from using the terms “self-driving,” “automated,” or “auto-pilot” when it comes to advertising its vehicles, unless they are capable of driving themselves without any human backup.
Meanwhile, Autopilot 2.0 is close at hand and would reportedly have updates with more sensors, more radar units and three forward facing cameras.
The question is, will the new system fix Autopilot’s reputation?