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Tesla is 'irresponsible' for touting 'Full Self-Driving' features, NTSB says

Roadshow logo Roadshow 2021-09-22 Sean Szymkowski
a person driving a car: Harsh words from the NTSB. Tesla © Provided by Roadshow Harsh words from the NTSB. Tesla

No, Tesla's Full Self-Driving beta does not create an autonomous car, and the automaker has been coming under fire for potentially overstating its capabilities. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said the electric carmaker is "irresponsible" for even calling the technology "full self-driving." Indeed, FSD is a Level 2 driver-assist system, based on the SAE Scale of Autonomy. There are no self-driving cars on sale.

Tesla "has clearly misled numerous people to misuse and abuse technology," she told the WSJ. The NTSB didn't immediately return a request for comment on Homendy's statements. Tesla doesn't operate a public relations department to field requests for comment. The automaker is currently under federal investigation of another driver-assist feature, Autopilot, after a number of reported crashes involving emergency vehicles. The blunt truth is there are many drivers who do use these systems beyond their actual capability. Though we've also seen evidence some systems, including FSD, aren't ready for prime time yet, either.

a person driving a car © Tesla

None of this is to devalue the immense progress Tesla made in the past few years when it comes to driver-assist systems and technology. The cars are incredibly smart, but regulators continue to point out areas where safety is lacking. Homendy told the newspaper that Tesla needs to resolve "basic safety issues" before expanding features for FSD and Autopilot.

The NTSB as an agency can investigate crashes, and often does land on the scene for high-profile wrecks and fires involving Teslas, but can only offer regulatory recommendations. It's up to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to invoke any new regulations surrounding FSD and other driver-assist systems.

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