Tesla is using customers to test AV tech on public roads: NTSB

Drawing on his agency’s experience investigating crashes, including multiple Tesla Autopilot incidents, Sumwalt called on the NHTSA to require automakers to include collision avoidance systems in all their vehicles, provide robust driver monitoring systems, and add safeguards that ensure drivers won’t use automated driving systems beyond the conditions and domains in which it is safe to do so.

Specific to Tesla, he recommended that NHTSA look at Tesla vehicles with Autopilot “to determine if the system’s operating limitations, the foreseeability of driver misuse, and the ability to operate the vehicles outside the intended ODD [operational design domain] pose an unreasonable risk to safety.” He added, “To date, NHTSA has shown no indication that it is prepared to respond effectively and in a timely manner to potential AV safety-related defects.”

He also wants the NHTSA to make safety reporting to the feds more specific and mandatory. Autonomous vehicle developers can currently volunteer their data, but don’t have to report it.

While Sumwalt had criticism, he also lauded the NHTSA for engaging and collaborating with his agency, along with state and local governments to arrive at the right balance of rules and regulations around emerging vehicle technologies.

A federal crackdown could hamper Tesla’s ability to test its Full Self-Driving systems the way it does today — using customers and public roads as test pilots and proving grounds.

But clear rules from one central office could help the autonomous vehicle industry in the U.S. overall, says the CEO of Snow Bull Capital’s Taylor Ogan. Federal rules, even if stringent, could align states and local authorities and reduce the patchwork of separate regulations around autonomous vehicles in each region, he said.

Ogan is a long time Tesla owner and proponent of Tesla and electric vehicles. His firm, Snow Bull, is a hedge fund that has historically been long Tesla, and does not short any stocks.

He personally drives a 2020 Model Y performance Tesla loaded with the Full Self-Driving option. It’s his fourth Tesla. The investor said, based on his personal use of the vehicle, that he believes Tesla’s is the best level 2 system on the market in the US today.

However, Ogan said, “My car cannot navigate autonomously in a parking lot, so I don’t know why people think these will operate as robotaxis. Our opinion is that Tesla cannot achieve Level 3 or Level 4 autonomy – which means no robotaxis — any time soon with their current hardware.”

In his view, competitors are already surpassing Tesla on self-driving in China, where the company faces competition from Nio, Xpeng and a joint venture between Didi Chuxing and BYD that’s developing a ride-hailing “robotaxi” called the D1.

Here’s the full letter from NTSB to NHTSA:

This content was originally published here.

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