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December 22, 2023

Consumer Reports: Tesla Autopilot Recall Fix Raises Questions

In the latest twist in the saga of Tesla's Autopilot recall, the verdict is in, and it's far from a smooth ride

In the ever-evolving landscape of autonomous driving, Tesla's Autopilot system has once again come under scrutiny. Consumer Reports, known for its meticulous evaluation of tech and vehicles, has raised concerns about the efficacy of Tesla's recent fix for the Autopilot recall affecting over 2 million vehicles. As the nonprofit organization delves into preliminary testing, questions linger about the company's approach to driver monitoring—a pivotal aspect of the recall.

Consumer Reports' Associate Director of Vehicle Technology, Kelly Funkhouser, expressed reservations about the effectiveness of Tesla's Autopilot recall fix. In a recent interview, Funkhouser revealed a potential loophole, stating that it's still possible to obstruct the cabin camera while using Autopilot. This revelation implies that drivers can circumvent one of the primary methods the car employs to gauge their attentiveness on the road.

Moreover, Funkhouser noted a lack of discernible differences when utilizing Autopilot's flagship feature, Autosteer, outside of the designated controlled-access highways where Tesla recommends its use. While the testing is preliminary, it raises critical questions about the extent of Tesla's adjustments in addressing the core issue prompting the recall.

The recall, impacting over 2 million cars in the U.S. and Canada, emerged amid a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The focus centers on Autosteer, designed to keep a car centered in a lane on controlled-access highways, even navigating curves. NHTSA expressed reservations about the efficacy of Tesla's existing checks to ensure driver attentiveness, deeming them "insufficient to prevent misuse."

As part of the recall, Tesla introduced additional checks upon engaging Autosteer and while using the feature outside controlled-access highways and approaching traffic controls. However, Funkhouser's preliminary testing casts a shadow on the clarity and impact of these changes.

In the unfolding saga of Tesla's Autopilot recall, questions linger about the adequacy of the recent fix. Consumer Reports, an authoritative voice in tech evaluations, plans to conduct more extensive testing in the coming weeks. The concerns voiced by Funkhouser underscore the need for transparency and clarity regarding Tesla's modifications to the driver monitoring system. As the autonomous driving narrative unfolds, the effectiveness of these adjustments will likely play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Tesla's Autopilot system.

Neil Hodgson Coyle
Neil Hodgson-Coyle
Editorial chief at TechNews180
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