A top U.S. safety official is urging
CEO Elon Musk has been promising to release Full Self-Driving software upgrades for several years, though at present, the electric car company does not offer a completely autonomous driving experience. Instead, Tesla offers what it calls Autopilot, which comes standard on its new cars and allows drivers to accelerate, brake, and steer automatically. The company says that the current Autopilot feature still requires “active supervision” from the driver.
Tesla says the Full Self-Driving package is designed to allow for short and long-distance trips “with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat.” This includes automatic parking, lane changes, and summoning of the car using the mobile app or key.
“All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go,” the company claims of the Full Self-Driving system.
But experts have increasingly voiced concern that Tesla might be touting its FSD feature without tackling underlying safety problems first. Jennifer Homendy, the new head of the National Transportation Safety Board, told The Wall Street Journal earlier this week that Tesla should not trial FSD in populated areas until issues are resolved.
“Basic safety issues have to be addressed before they’re then expanding it to other city streets and other areas,” she told the outlet, calling Tesla’s use of the term Full Self-Driving “misleading and irresponsible.”
Despite ongoing assurances, Musk admitted in July that creating a car that is truly self-driving is a “hard problem” to solve. In August, Tesla’s Autopilot system underwent an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which cited a number of Tesla accidents that resulted in 17 injuries and one death. And earlier this month, the electric car company was ordered by the agency to turn over all of its detailed Autopilot data by October 22 or face fines.