Tesla facing calls to disable its Autopilot system as it's "dangerously premature"

There's been three crashes recently involving Autopilot

Tesla facing calls to disable its Autopilot system as it's "dangerously premature"

Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk | Photo: PA Images

Tesla Motors, the electric car manufacturer, is coming under huge scrutiny for the capabilities of its "Autopilot" self-driving system.

The consumer rights group Consumer Reports has said that Tesla is under intense scrutiny for their implementation of Autopilot in their Model S car. They said that Tesla have made it sound like the feature takes over full control of the car when this is not the case.

The feature's name along with Tesla's marketing around Autopilot creates a "dangerously premature assumption that the Model S was capable of truly driving on its own."

Autopilot has been a factor in three crashes in the US recently, one of which claimed the life of a Florida man after he collided with a tractor trailer.

Tesla's visual example of how its Autopilot system works using radars and cameras

Tesla introduced the system by saying it is in a beta test stage, leading Consumer Reports to raise even more concerns.

The group has asked Tesla to disable elements of the system, including Autosteer, so that drivers retain full control of the vehicle. They also Autopilot to be renamed as they call it "misleading and potentially dangerous".

The National Highway Traffic Administration is currently investigating the system after the series of crashes it has been involved in. It has written to Tesla to request detailed information about the Autopilot system.

Tesla has defended its systems by saying "The driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of the car. This is enforced with onboard monitoring and alerts."

But the company's CEO, Elon Musk, has taken to Twitter to share his opinions.

He refers to an incident where a Tesla owner crashed their Model X after the Autopilot system disengaged itself. Tesla said the driver was given audible and visual warnings but failed to put his hands back on the wheel in time.

Laura MacCleery, vice-president of consumer policy at Consumer Reports, said that this is not a safe situation for drivers, as "these two messages - your vehicle can drive itself, but you may need to take over the controls at a moment's notice - create potential for driver confusion."