Expert Compares Tesla's New Self-Driving Tech To A Drunk Driver

Technology / Comments

Full Self-Driving beta 9 hasn't had the smoothest start.

The latest version of Tesla's Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta was released earlier this month. Shortly after this, several videos were published from owners of vehicles like the Model 3 and these served as proof that the technology needs a lot more work. In many cases, the driver had to take control of the vehicle to avoid a potential collision. Still, this hasn't stopped Tesla from introducing a more attainable FSD monthly subscription.

But beyond the unsettling experiences of a few Tesla drivers, Consumer Reports (CR) and other industry experts have now criticized the latest software for simply not being safe enough. Some also think that FSD beta 9 doesn't make driving any safer or less taxing.

2017-2021 Tesla Model 3 Forward Vision Tesla
2017-2021 Tesla Model 3 Rear Angle View Tesla

"Consumers are simply paying to be test engineers for developing technology without adequate safety protection," said senior director of CR's Auto Test Center, Jake Fisher. CR expressed continued concern that Tesla owners are effectively serving as guinea pigs for the new driver-assist technology and, by extension, implicating other road users.

"Other road users - drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. - are unaware that they are in the presence of a test vehicle and have not consented to take on this risk," said Bryan Reimer, professor at MIT and founder of the Advanced Vehicle Technology (AVT) consortium.

In a recent tweet, Elon Musk didn't engender much confidence when he advised users of FSD beta 9 to "please be paranoid." Industry experts at companies developing their own self-driving technologies feel that Tesla drivers testing FSD beta 9 should be monitored in real-time.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1413306409693892613
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In a particularly scathing assessment of FSD beta 9, Selika Josiah Talbott, a professor at the American University School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. who also studies autonomous vehicles, described the cars as behaving "almost like a drunk driver." The professor criticized the cars as meandering on the road and executing wild left-hand turns. Yes, there are maneuvers that FSD beta 9 has performed perfectly but there are simply too many occasions where the system misses the mark.

"I have never seen anything like we're seeing today with Tesla, where it's as if the U.S. Department of Transportation has blinders on when it comes to the actions of this particular company," Talbott says.

CR is currently waiting to test FSD beta 9 as soon as its Model Y receives the required software update.

2017-2021 Tesla Model S Driving Front Angle Tesla
2017-2021 Tesla Model S Driving Back View Tesla
Source Credits: Consumer Reports

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