DETROIT (CBSNewYork/AP) — Consumer Reports magazine is calling on electric car maker Tesla Motors to change the name of its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system and to disconnect the automatic steering feature after a fatal crash in Florida.
“Autopilot is a term that has a definition and it really gives you the indication that the vehicle is self-driving and autonomous, but it’s not,” Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports, told WCBS 880.
The magazine says in a statement that calling the system Autopilot promotes a dangerous assumption that Teslas can drive themselves. It also says the automatic steering should be disconnected until it’s updated to make sure a driver’s hands stay on the steering wheel at all times.
Consumer Reports is also urging Tesla to stop releasing beta models that can put drivers at risk, and to issue clear guidelines for drivers using the vehicles.
“With Tesla, they’re saying themselves that this is beta — we’re not sure that it’s always going to work right,” Fisher said. “To roll it out an entire fleet, that is a problem — and if they’re not responsible with this, there may need to be some regulation to keep them in check.”
Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company, was killed May 7 in Williston, Florida, when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to statements by the government and the automaker.
Just one month earlier, Brown had credited the Autopilot system for preventing a collision on an interstate.
Messages were left Thursday seeking comment from Tesla spokespeople in California.
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