NTSB chief criticizes Tesla’s self-driving capabilities as “misleading”

The head of the US National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday redoubled criticism of Tesla’s driver assistance systems after several fatal crashes in recent years, calling the company’s use of “complete self-government” for its latest systems “misleading.”

The comments came a day after NTSB chairman Jennifer Homendy sent a letter to Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the company’s failure to respond to recommendations issued by a security observer four years ago to limit system functionality and implement stricter safety measures to track driver disconnections.

“It’s understandable that if you advertise something as completely autonomous rather than completely autonomous and people are abusing vehicles and technology, but you have a design flaw and you have to prevent this misuse,” Homendy said. said on CNBC “Squawk Box”. “And part of it has to do with the way you talk about your technology. It’s not fully autonomous driving … It’s misleading. “

Homendi said Tesla has yet to formally respond to the NTSB regarding its safety recommendations. She also said that she did not meet with Musk, but that she visited a Tesla plant in California and was driving a car with an autopilot offered by Tesla.

The letter, as well as other National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigations into Tesla crashes, had little impact on the company’s stock price. Tesla’s market value reached $ 1 trillion on Monday. Shares closed up 12.66% on Monday to about $ 1,024 a share.

The NTSB is currently conducting 10 investigations into Tesla fires and accidents, Homendi said Tuesday. Three or four investigations are open, she said.

Tesla’s driver assistance systems are marketed in the US as Autopilot, Full Self-Driving, and FSD Beta. ready to take over at any time. “

Full Self-Driving is sold with the promise that Tesla will be able to automatically change lanes, navigate highways, and enter or exit a parking space. FSD Beta gives drivers the opportunity to test the unfinished “road train on city streets” feature, which allows them to automatically navigate surface streets and urban environments without turning the steering wheel with their own hands.

“What worries me most is that Tesla is rolling out full self-driving technology in beta on city streets with untrained drivers, and they have not taken into account our recommendations that we have issued from numerous Tesla crash investigations,” Homendi said Tuesday.

Homendy’s criticism followed Tesla spotting issues in its latest update, called Full Self-Driving Beta v.10.3, over the weekend and struggling to revise it after its initial release.

The NTSB does not have a regulatory body like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is an independent federal agency commissioned by Congress to investigate aircraft accidents in the United States and serious accidents involving other modes of transport, such as automobiles. He then recommends actions that companies should take to avoid future accidents.

– CNBC Laura Kolodnaya contributed to this report.

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