Is Tesla’s Electric Car Over-Promised?
Tesla is offering a Full Self-Driving Capability option to its electric cars for the price of $8,000. However, the option does not really give consumers full self-driving capability.
Every new vehicle that Tesla builds has all the necessary hardware to be fully autonomous and, the company says, should eventually be capable of driving themselves through future over-the-air software updates.
For now, the Full Self-Driving Capability only includes features such as driver assist with parking, highway lane changing, and complete stop at traffic lights and stop signs. The features work only in certain situations and can be turned on or off by the driver.
“Despite the name, the Full Self-Driving Capability suite requires significant driver attention to ensure that these developing-technology features don’t introduce new safety risks to the driver, or other vehicles out on the road. Not only that, in our evaluations we determined that several of the features don’t provide much in the way of real benefits to customers, despite the extremely high purchase price.” This is according to Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.
Tesla has prided itself on building sleek electric cars with industry-leading driving ranges and in developing new technology geared towards creating a fully autonomous, self-driving car one day.
Consumer Reports assessed the Full Self-Driving Capability features on Tesla vehicles and came up with the following results:
- Most features within Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Capability suite were inconsistent. For example, the Autopark feature recognizes a parking space as suitable but would not recognize the same space as such the next time. Also, it often doesn’t park straight between the parking lines.
- Smart Summon allows the car to remotely drive to a location on a private parking lot, but the test revealed that it sometimes would drive on the wrong side of the lane on a parking lot and didn’t stop at times at the lot’s stop signs.
- When a destination is programmed into the navigation system, Navigate on Autopilot allows a Tesla to autonomously take on- and off-ramps and make lane changes when driving on the highway. However, testing revealed that the system oftentimes ignores exit ramps on the set route, drive in the carpool lane, and stay in the passing lane for long periods of time. It also would disengage sometimes for unknown reasons.
- The Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control feature allows a Tesla to completely stop at all stoplights even when the stoplight is green and unless the driver overrides the system. However, it goes against the normal driving practice for a car to slow down to a stop when the stoplight is green. It also would sometimes drive through stop signs, slam the breaks for yield signs even when it is clear, and stop at every exit as the car goes around a traffic circle.
Kelly Funkhouser, head of connected and automated vehicle testing at Consumer Reports, concluded that “it seems like Tesla is focused on being the automaker with the most features rather than ensuring that the features work well.”
Editor’s note on Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’:
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