The Plot Thickens: NTSB Chief Rips Into Tesla (TSLA) For Stamping the Full Self-Driving (FSD) Label on Its Autopilot’s Enhanced Features


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Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), the world’s leading manufacturer of electric vehicles by a wide margin, remains embroiled in a worsening tug-of-war with concerned authorities over the supposed efficacy and safety of its semi-autonomous driving system, dubbed the Autopilot.

The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) has long maintained a critical stance on Tesla’s use of the Full Self-Driving (FSD) labeling for the Autopilot’s enhanced features. Today, as per the reporting by publications such as Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, the regulator went a step ahead on its ongoing crusade when its chairwoman, Jennifer Homendy, termed the FSD labeling “misleading and irresponsible” and urged Tesla to address ongoing safety concerns via-a-vis the Autopilot before introducing new features.

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Bear in mind that Tesla is slated to open its FSD Beta program to a much wider pool of participants in a matter of days.  As a refresher, Tesla’s Autopilot system has recently gone through a major overhaul, with the company abandoning the radar sensor in favor of eight cameras. Tesla retails the FSD functionality of the Autopilot system as a separate add-on that can be purchased via a $10,000 lump-sum amount or $199 per month subscription.

Today’s admonishment comes as the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is already conducting a high-profile investigation of Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system following a series of troubling accidents over the years.

We had noted in a previous post that Tesla’s FSD capability is a misnomer at this stage, with the system allowing automatic lane changes and parking but not the complete autonomy that the FSD labeling implies. According to Tesla’s own admission to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the Autopilot is an SAE Level 2 Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). On the other hand, a true FSD system would be equivalent to an SAE Level 5 ADAS. Moreover, the FSD labeling is literally claiming lives by lulling people into a false sense of security. The vast majority of Tesla accidents involve people who chose to completely rely on the Autopilot for something that it is incapable of at present, namely, a fully autonomous driving experience.

Nonetheless, Tesla does continue to make significant strides in improving the overall capabilities of the FSD feature. While the FSD Beta 9.2 was widely termed problematic, the newly released FSD Beta 10 has been winning guarded applause from many users.

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