Tesla’s Autopilot system failed to impress European safety officials, who ranked the company’s flagship technology sixth out of 10 driver assistance systems.
The Model 3’s Autopilot pulled low scores from the European New Car Assessment Program on its ability to keep drivers engaged and focused on the road, an issue that has plagued the electric automaker in recent years.
The system scored just 36 when assessed on its ability to keep drivers attentive. But it gained the highest marks for performance and ability to respond to emergencies, receiving an overall score of 131 and a rating of ‘moderate’.
In contrast, the Mercedes GLE’s system, which had the highest overall score of 174 and received the top rating of ‘very good’, received a score of 85 for driver engagement. Most other vehicles had scores of 70 or above for driver engagement.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) earlier this year called on CEO Elon Musk to rebrand the Autopilot feature in his cars, saying it’s “an inherently misleading name” because the cars cannot actually drive themselves and require drivers to remain attentive to the road to avoid deadly accidents.
Autopilot helps Tesla drivers steer, accelerate and brake automatically in their lane, but requires them to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times.
Markey called for the name change — among other tweaks — to stop Tesla owners from thinking they can trick the driver-assistance program into doing all the work. Drivers have been getting around the hands-on-wheel requirement by resting only one hand on the wheel, tying a weight to the wheel “and wedging a water bottle or an orange” into the wheel, Markey claimed.
Tesla Autopilot has been involved in five fatal crashes since 2016, including a grisly accident in Mountain View, Calif., just 15 minutes away from the company’s headquarters, which left the driver dead after his Model X hit a highway divider.
In February, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board blasted Tesla for not instituting more safeguards into its tech when an investigation revealed that the Mountain View driver had been using the Autopilot system to leave him free to play a video game on his iPhone at the time of the crash.
Tesla — unlike five other auto manufacturers, including BMW and Nissan — ignored safety recommendations issued by the NTSB in 2017, including one that asked automakers to design driver-assist programs in such a way that they no longer provide drivers with a false sense of security.
A representative for Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
With Post wires.