An accident occurred on March 17th, in which two people in the passenger and rear seats were killed when a model S crashed into the driver’s seat, causing a fire. In response, Tesla CEO Elon Musk argued that the autopilot was not used in the accident, according to the log information retrieved so far, and the vehicle did not purchase the FSD option, so the use of the autopilot in the accident was not the cause.
Elon Musk’s grounds for saying he wasn’t using an autopilot said he couldn’t choose if there weren’t any lanes on the road. In this regard, however, a Twitter user posted a video footage of using an autopilot on a road without lanes.
However, the question of whether the autopilot, which should be automatically canceled if you do not hold the handle for more than 10 seconds, will continue to be used without anyone in the driver’s seat has not been confirmed and verified yet.
This situation was verified using Model Y prepared by Consumer Reports, a magazine published by Consumer Unions, a non-profit consumer organization in the United States. Accordingly, he reported that he confirmed that choosing an autopilot was not difficult even when there were no people in the driver’s seat.
The steps described by Consumer Reports are as follows. First, the driver’s seat belt is attached to the buckle while it is in the vacant seat, and the driver sits on it. This is because if you don’t wear a seat belt, you can’t choose an autopilot. Then, the car is stopped by selecting the autopilot as it is and setting the speed to zero immediately. Then, the steering wheel weight chain is wound and the driver moves to the passenger seat the fastest while holding the steering wheel. Autopilot can now be turned on even when the driver’s seat is vacant. For the rest, reach the steering wheel in the passenger seat and change the speed setting, and Tesla starts driving at the set speed.
Model Y reports that he went back and forth several times over the half-mile course, not caring about no one in the driver’s seat, no one touching the steering wheel, or weighing on the seat. In addition, he added that he felt a little scary because he proved that it was an insufficient substitute to be able to break the safety device so easily.
But don’t try to imitate this approach. Consumer Report conducted a test with the speed set to 48km/h or less in a completely safe environment according to the self-test process. However, if an ordinary person does this on the road, it may not be a test, but a test to see if the person dies or does not die after an accident. Consumer Reports warns that you should never imitate any situation, as this can create an imminent danger for the driver and passengers.
Of course, it should not be forgotten that the Tesla Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) options are not both Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. There is no car in the world yet capable of fully autonomous driving.
Consumer Reports also pointed out that Tesla needs to at least check whether there is weight on the steering wheel, as well as the driver’s seat weight sensor and whether the driver is really here. Weight sensors are also used in seat belt warnings and airbags, and integrating them into cruise control and autopilot linkages is straightforward.
In addition, it is pointed out that some Tesla vehicles do not monitor drivers at all times and that improvement is needed. Government regulations insisted that drivers must be seated in the driver’s seat to make it almost impossible to select an autopilot and that a stronger safety inspection mechanism should be required. And on the grounds that European regulators have legislated the introduction of an advanced driver monitoring system that always checks whether the driver is in a normal state since 2023, it is asking US regulators to adopt the same regulations. Related information can be found here.