Consumer Reports: Tesla's New Autopilot Update Worse than Human Driver

Consumer Reports has issued a new review of Tesla's Autopilot system update, which features automatic lane changes, and they says it underperforms a human driver in terms of safety, and even makes illegal turns to boot.
John Loeffler

Consumer Reports, one of the most respected consumer product reviewers out there, has issued a new review of Tesla's most recent Autopilot system update and it isn't good, to say the least.

Consumer Reports Pans Tesla's Autopilot Update

Consumer Reports (CR) recently reviewed Tesla's newest Autopilot update and found the automatic lane changed to be badly executed and sometimes even dangerous, casting some shadow over Elon Musk's recent claim that Tesla would have a fully self-driving car by the end of the year.

CR begins its review by saying that Tesla "says it’s an attempt to make driving 'more seamless.' But Consumer Reports observed the opposite in its own tests of the feature, finding that it doesn’t work very well and could create potential safety risks for drivers.

According to CR, the new Autopilot didn't leave enough room for approaching cars when it changed lanes and would regularly brake with no warning after merging into congested traffic trying to create more space between it and the vehicle in front of it.

The new Autopilot would sometimes try to pull a maneuver that happens to be illegal in Connecticut, where the testing took place, and the CR said that its testers would sometimes even have to override the Autopilot system's lane change decisions over safety concerns.

"It's incredibly nearsighted," wrote CR's senior director of auto testing, Jake Fisher. "It doesn't appear to react to brake lights or turn signals, it can't anticipate what other drivers will do, and as a result, you constantly have to be one step ahead of it."

"The system's role should be to help the driver, but the way this technology is deployed, it's the other way around,"

The review makes a bottom-line assessment of the latest update and says it cast real doubt on Elon Musk's claims that Tesla will have full-self driving vehicles by the end of the year. "Despite Tesla’s promises that it will have full self-driving technology by the end of next year, our experience with Navigate on Autopilot suggests it will take longer," they said. "In addition, experts tell CR that the automatic lane-change feature demonstrates the technological limits of Tesla’s current hardware."

Tesla responded to Business Insider's (BI) questions about the issues brought up by the CR review and were told that "its vehicles have safely made millions of lane changes with the automated lane-change feature."

BI goes on to note that the Tesla representative also help up an April 3 blog post wherein Tesla states that after an internal review of their data, "that the safety level of Autopilot with the lane-change feature was similar to the version without it."

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