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July 15, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 11:10am

Tesla urged to disable automatic steering after fatal crash

News: Consumer Reports is calling for Tesla to remove hands-free operation until its system can be made safer.

By CBR Staff Writer

A consumer rights group in the US has urged Tesla to disable the Autopilot driving-assist system in its Model S cars, which is under federal scrutiny after a series of crashes.

Consumer Reports said that the Autopilot name promotes a potentially dangerous assumption that the Model S is capable of driving on its own.

The automaker has been under fire after a 40-year-old Ohio man died on a Florida highway while using the Autopilot, which features various systems such as Autosteer and Auto Lane Change.

The systems utilise cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors and data to automatically steer down the highway, change lanes, and adjust speed in response to traffic.

Tesla claims that the features help the car prevent hazards and reduce the driver’s workload.

A series of crashes have raised concerns regarding Autopilot, which Tesla described as a beta feature in its blogpost on 30 June.

Consumer Reports vice president of consumer policy and mobilization Laura MacCleery said: “By marketing their feature as ‘Autopilot,’ Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security.

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“Autopilot' can't actually drive the car, yet it allows consumers to have their hands off the steering wheel for minutes at a time. Tesla should disable automatic steering in its cars until it updates the programme to verify that the driver's hands are on the wheel."

The group urged Tesla to fully test safety systems before public deployment and issue clear guidance to owners on the use of the system and its limitations.

The automaker said in a statement it is constantly introducing enhancements, proven over millions of miles of internal testing, to make sure that drivers supported by Autopilot remain safer than those who operate without assistance.

"We will continue to develop, validate, and release those enhancements as the technology grows. While we appreciate well-meaning advice from any individual or group, we make our decisions on the basis of real-world data, not speculation by media,” Tesla added.

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