Tesla Won’t Disable Autopilot Feature Amid NHTSA Investigation

Tesla’s Autopilot function isn’t going anywhere, company executives say, despite a recently launched federal safety investigation into what part the feature played in the first fatality crash to occur while the semi-autonomous function was activated, and a reported probe into whether Tesla properly informed its investors of the collision.

CEO Elon Musk told the Wall Street Journal that he has no plans to disable to Autopilot function in the wake of the May crash that killed the driver of a 2015 Model S.

Instead, the company plans to increase efforts to educate owners on how the system works and what to expect when using it.

“A lot of people don’t understand what it is and how you turn it on,” Musk said, noting that the carmaker would publish a blog explaining the function soon. The feature is set to off by default until a driver activates it.

Autopilot – which steers the car more actively than similar systems that rely on automatic braking, steering assist or adaptive cruise control to aid drivers – has been aggressively marketed by the company. Tesla plans to include the feature in the Model 3, its lower-price vehicle that is expected to hit the road in the coming year.

Musk tells the WSJ that the carmaker launched the feature last year as a beta because “we knew we had a system that on balance would save lives.”

“It says beta specifically so people do not become complacent,” Musk said, adding that disclaimers provided to drivers are “written in super plain language.”

Despite Tesla’s assurances that it will better educate drivers on the Autopilot feature, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Tuesday disclosed a request for additional information on the feature.

According to the WSJ, NHTSA is looking into the feature’s automative emergency braking, as well as details about Autopilot’s design and engineering in relation to the May 7 crash.

“NHTSA has not made any determination about the presence or absence of a defect in the subject vehicles,” a spokesperson for the agency tells the WSJ.

Tesla Has No Plans to Disable Autopilot Feature in Its Cars [The Wall Street Journal]

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