In a response to a letter from Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey, Tesla defended the value and safety offered by its Autopilot and FSD Beta programs to drivers. The company also noted that the systems, at least in their current iteration, still require “constant monitoring and attention of the driver.”
Last month, Blumenthal and Markey sent a letter to Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk. The two senators stated that they have “significant concerns” about Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD systems. Tesla senior director of public policy and business development Rohan Patel sent a response to the senators’ concerns earlier this month, highlighting that Autopilot and FSD Beta enhances the capability of customers to drive “safer than the average driver in the US.”
Patel also clarified that Autopilot and FSD Beta in their current state “requires constant monitoring and attention of the driver.” The senior director also noted that Tesla vehicles today are already capable of performing “some but not all of the Dynamic Driving Tasks” that can be done by humans behind the wheel. These statements reiterate what Tesla currently has on its official website.
As could be seen in the company’s Autopilot page, Tesla noted that its driver-assist system enables vehicles to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically. Despite this, the company also highlights that Autopilot requires “active driver supervision and does not make the vehicle autonomous.”
In a statement to Reuters, Blumenthal and Markey dismissed Tesla’s response, stating that Patel’s letter was “just more evasion and deflection from Tesla. Despite its troubling safety track record and deadly crashes, the company seemingly wants to carry on with business as usual.”
The senators are yet to provide data that shows that Tesla has a “troubling safety track record and deadly crashes,” considering that the EV maker’s vehicles are consistently ranked among the safest in the market. A good number of Tesla accidents, some of which were initially blamed on Autopilot, were eventually proven to be due to driver error as well. Tesla, however, has not issued a response to Blumenthal and Markey’s comments as of writing.
Tesla is currently in the process of rolling out its FSD Beta program, which allows vehicles to navigate city streets on their own. The program has since been expanded to about 60,000 users across the United States.
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