The lane change assist is said to be unsuitable for its driving conditions.
The Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) of Germany has confirmed that an investigation into Tesla Autopilot's lane change assist system is being launched. The panel will be looking at the key safety feature, available in cars such as the Tesla Model S, to deem whether it is suitable for European roads. If the system is scrubbed from its German lineup, it could seriously hinder the brand's ability to sell cars in the region.
This is because the lane change feature is a crucial aspect of the Advanced Driver Assist System. As the company describes, it allows the car to identify the ideal lane for various events that include overtaking, highway merging, and more. A spokesperson of the KDA merely announced the investigation to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper with no additional information relating to the case.
Tesla's Autopilot has been in the news for faults almost immediately after it was released. The level-two automation system offers assists such as lane centering, adaptive cruise control, semi-autonomous navigation, self-parking abilities, freeway access, and lane changing. The brand says this is important for drivers that suffer from fatigue or general negligence.
The Autopilot system relies on cameras that are positioned at the front, sides, and rear. This is supported by a forward-facing radar that can monitor up to 558 ft and 12 sonars with a 26-ft range. It is a commendable configuration but a key weakness is that it allows drivers the opportunity to take their attention off the road. This is a concern because the chances of driver intervention in the event of an accident are significantly reduced.
The latest example of the Autopilot coming up for debate for its effectiveness is the case that has resulted in the death of two road users in a tragic accident. It is understood that while the Autopilot on the driver's Tesla Model S was active, it ran through a red traffic light and struck a Honda Civic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) has already confirmed that Autopilot was active during this incident.
Granted, the system has also been in the news for positive outcomes. Late last year, a woman was able to give birth to her daughter in the front seat of her Model 3 during rush hour traffic. The car made it safely to the hospital 20 minutes after their departure, allowing the family to ensure that the baby was safely delivered during the journey.
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