The system works differently in Europe.
It feels like Tesla is forever making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The US EV giant is at the forefront of electric vehicle technology, but as it progresses, it keeps hitting some major stumbling blocks that not only hurt sales, but its reputation as well. One of the latest controversies surrounding the brand revolves around its Autopilot system, and US regulators aren't too happy with its performance of late, and the Fed's investigations into Tesla's self-driving tech is ramping up. This comes after the company was court ordered in Germany to pay owners back for placing them in dangerous situations. These issues seem to be less common in Europe, where Tesla's Autopilot system works slightly differently, partly due to stricter regulations.
The European market has been slower to accept Tesla's self-driving system, and although it is legal in most of Europe, some limitations have been put in place. For instance, the summon distance feature only works at a maximum range of six meters, whereas it operates at 39 feet (12 meters) in the US. The auto lane changing feature operates at slower speeds compared to US cars and only operates on roads with more than two lanes in either direction. The Autosteer system does not take sharp turns in EU countries, and a fifteen-second steering reminder forces drivers to return their hands to the steering wheel regularly.
While these measures make Europe's Autopilot system arguably safer than the one we get in the US, it actually causes headaches for Tesla, which relies on unrestricted feedback to make its AI network smarter. The restrictions stem from a United Nations resolution called UN/ECE Regulation 79 implemented in 2017. This ruling downgraded Tesla's Autopilot system, and it looks to be in place until Europe's governing bodies decide otherwise. Tesla currently runs its Autopilot system within EU regulations, but it is still uncertain whether cars such as the Model 3 and Model S will be approved for legal use once they go fully autonomous.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, Tesla vehicles currently offer level 2 autonomous driving, which falls under the legal limits being put in place by certain countries. The UK for instance has made level 3 cars legal to drive in that country, and it is expected that Tesla should reach level 3 autonomous driving in the next year or two. Despite its dubious crash history, Tesla remains one of the safest brands on US roads, but it's a different story in Europe, where its cars only received moderate ratings by Euro NCAP. With the Autopilot system getting major heat in the US for killing cardboard kids, perhaps Tesla should tone it down and introduce Europe's 'safer' version here before it goes fully autonomous.