SAN ANTONIO – Tesla’s Autopilot feature can easily be used to drive the car even when no one is behind the wheel, Consumer Reports warned as it released video of its own test.
Consumer Reports conducted its closed track test after the weekend crash near Houston that killed two passengers. Authorities say no one was behind the wheel when the car crashed into a tree.
Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of auto testing, said he engaged the Autopilot system while the car was moving and then set the speed to zero to stop. He said he then put a weighted chain on the steering wheel and climbed over into the passenger seat where he was able to accelerate. The vehicle was a Tesla Model Y.
“In our evaluation, the system not only failed to make sure the driver was paying attention, but it also couldn’t tell if there was a driver there at all,” Fisher said.
Tesla did not respond to the test, but CEO Elon Musk has indicated that the crashed Tesla did not have the Autopilot feature engaged.
The accident is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Consumer Reports said its test showed that the Autopilot safety system is insufficient and that the driver monitoring systems must discourage risky behavior and keep the driver activity engaged and monitored at all times. Consumer Reports said it has seen these safer kinds of systems on vehicles from Ford and GM.