Tesla wants to repair Autopilot security flaws, calls for Senator Markey

Elon Musk and Barbara Walters in a Tesla. Musk has his hands off the steering wheel as the car is driving.
Enlarge / Tesla says that Autopilot customers ought to at all times preserve each fingers on the steering wheel.


On Friday, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) known as on Tesla to undertake “common sense recommendations” in its Autopilot driver help to “guarantee the safety of its technology.” Specifically, he is asking the automaker to cease implying that the system is able to self-driving and in addition asks Tesla to suit a correct driver-monitoring system. The senator started his investigation into the corporate’s driver-assist bundle following a number of studies of drivers circumventing the automobiles’ rudimentary security controls.

From the senator’s web site:

Autopilot is a flawed system, however I imagine its risks could be overcome… I’ve been proud to work with Tesla on advancing cleaner, extra sustainable transportation applied sciences. But these achievements mustn’t come on the expense of security. That’s why I’m calling on Tesla to make use of its assets and experience to higher defend drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and all different customers of the highway. I urge Tesla to undertake my widespread sense suggestions for fixing Autopilot, which embrace rebranding and remarketing the system to scale back misuse, in addition to constructing backup driver monitoring instruments that may ensure that nobody falls asleep on the wheel. Tesla can and should do extra to ensure the security of its know-how.

This is just not the primary time that the identify Autopilot has come below fireplace. In 2016, the German transport minister advised the corporate “to no longer use the misleading term for the driver-assistance system of the car.” In 2018, two US shopper security teams requested the Federal Trade Commission to deal with Autopilot’s “deceptive and misleading” branding. In 2019, we found that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advised the corporate to cease making “misleading statements” in relation to security, and the corporate repeatedly made claims in regards to the security of Autopilot that weren’t supported by truth. (The information confirmed that Autosteer—a element of the Autopilot suite of assists—truly elevated crashes by 59 p.c.)

A survey carried out in 2019 confirmed that just about 50 p.c of drivers thought Autopilot was protected to make use of hands-free. Tesla has repeatedly acknowledged that drivers need to preserve their fingers on the wheel always, though the corporate’s CEO famously flouted this recommendation in a prolonged interview proven on CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2018. In a December 2019 letter to Sen. Markey, Tesla wrote that it believes “that many of these videos are fake and intended to capture media attention.”

Markey’s second security request is for Tesla to suit its autos with an efficient driver-monitoring system (DMS). He’s not alone—in 2019, in response to yet one more video of somebody asleep within the driver’s seat of a transferring Tesla, my colleague Tim Lee laid out a case for why a steering wheel torque sensor is insufficient in comparison with a correct DMS like the type utilized by Cadillac or Subaru, which use eye-tracking cameras to make sure the driving force has their consideration on the highway forward.

This is just not the primary time that Markey has turned his consideration to new automotive know-how. In 2015, his workplace launched a report on the dearth of safety measures to forestall related automobiles from being hacked.

Tesla didn’t reply when contacted by Ars for its touch upon Sen. Markey’s requests.

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