Test group says Tesla Autopilot slips in driver assistance ratings

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system Autopilot fell in a number of 12 major systems, Consumer Reports said on Wednesday.

Of 12 systems tested by Consumer Reports, a nonprofit organization that evaluates products and services, Ford Motor’s BlueCruise was first, followed by General Motors’ Cadillac Super Cruise and Mercedes-Benz Driver Assistance.

Tesla, which was second in Consumer Reports ratings in 2020 behind Super Cruise, fell to seventh, the group said. The electric car maker did not respond to a request for comment.

Tesla has not changed Autopilot’s basic functionality, instead adding more features to it, the group said.

“After all this time, Autopilot still doesn’t allow collaborative steering and doesn’t have an effective driver monitoring system,” Consumer Reports Auto Testing director Jake Fisher said in a statement.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating 830,000 Tesla vehicles with Autopilot after a series of accidents involving parked emergency vehicles.

NHTSA is reviewing whether Tesla vehicles adequately ensure that drivers are alert. In June, the agency said evidence suggested that drivers in most emergency vehicle accidents under review had complied with Tesla’s warning strategy that seeks to compel the driver’s attention, raising questions about its effectiveness.

NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said earlier this month that the agency was “working really quickly” on its Autopilot probe. “We’re moving as fast as we can, but we also want to be cautious and make sure we have all the information we need,” she said.

In 2020, the National Transportation Safety Board criticized Tesla’s “ineffective monitoring of driver engagement” following a fatal Autopilot crash in 2018.

Autopilot allows cars to steer, accelerate and brake within their lanes without driver intervention, but Tesla says the feature requires “active driver monitoring and does not make the vehicle autonomous.”

NHTSA has separately opened more than three dozen Tesla special crash investigations in which advanced systems including Autopilot were suspected of being used with 19 accidental deaths reported.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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