U.S. safety regulators have expressed concern after Elon Musk said in a tweet that Tesla might permit some owners who are testing a “Full Self-Driving” system to turn off an alarm that prompts them to maintain their hands on the wheel.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tesla was questioned about the tweet.
The incident is now a part of a larger investigation into at least 14 Teslas that have collided with emergency vehicles while using the Autopilot driver assistance technology, the government stated last week.
Tesla has been conducting “Full Self-Driving” beta tests since 2021 with users who haven’t received formal training but are nevertheless closely supervised by the business.
Earlier this year, Tesla said that 160,000, or about 15% of the Teslas on American roads, were taking part.
Later in 2022, the program was supposed to be distributed more widely.
Tesla still states on its website that the cars cannot drive themselves, despite the moniker.
Although Teslas equipped with “Full Self-Driving” can frequently drive alone, experts warn that the technology is not error-free. CEO Musk stated in October, “We’re not claiming it’s quite ready to have no one behind the wheel.”
One of Elon Musk’s most fervent supporters suggested on Twitter on New Year’s Eve that motorists with more than 10,000 miles of “Full Self-Driving” testing should have the choice to disable the “steering wheel nag,” a warning that urges motorists to keep their hands on the wheel.
“Agreed, update coming in Jan,” Musk retorted.
The tweets don’t make it clear what Tesla will do in detail. However, Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports, warned that disabling a driver monitoring system on any vehicle that automates speed and steering would be dangerous for other motorists.
A request seeking comment on the tweet and related driver monitoring was ignored by Tesla.
Government investigators and auto safety groups have long criticized Tesla’s monitoring system as being insufficient.
Poor monitoring was identified by the National Transportation Safety Board three years ago as a significant cause of a deadly Tesla collision in California in 2018.
According to the board, the board suggested a better system, but Tesla has not reacted.
To check that drivers are paying attention, Tesla’s technology analyzes the torque on the steering wheel.
Many Tesla vehicles include eye-tracking cameras.
However, Fisher claims that because these cameras lack infrared technology, unlike other competitor driving aid systems, they cannot see in low light conditions or if a driver is donning sunglasses.