Tesla comes clean on self-driving claims

The electric car maker has copped flak for a controversially named feature on its products, and now it has been caught out.

Tesla has admitted one of its most controversial features doesn’t live up to its name.

The American electric car maker has talked up the performance and capabilities of its Full Self Driving Mode, but documents sent by Tesla to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provide a conflicting opinion.

According to US publication Car and Driver, the documents were acquired via a public record request by legal website Plainsite.

In the documents from Tesla’s associate general counsel, Eric Williams, to the DMV head of autonomous vehicles, he writes that the Full Self Driving Mode is not autonomous.

“Currently neither Autopilot nor FSD Capability is an autonomous system, and currently no comprising feature, whether singularly or collectively, is autonomous or makes our vehicles autonomous,” says Williams.

Tesla charges $10,100 for Full Self Driving mode in Australia, which includes features such as auto parking, auto lane changing, navigate freeways including the ability to overtake slower cars and summon mode which allows the vehicle to get out of tight spots.

But as the company admits to regulators in its home state of California it appears to be a long way off being fully driverless.

Williams goes on to say that the features are level 2 autonomous.

Autonomous technology is rated from levels 1 through 5. Level 1 features many common driver aids such as radar cruise control that maintains distance with the car in front of you at variable speeds.

The highest level 5 requires no human interaction and the car will have no steering wheel or accelerator or brake pedals.

Level 2 autonomous vehicles will keep you in your lane, brake and accelerate with traffic and recognise traffic light signals but a human must always be in control of the vehicle.

Tesla does make it clear that drivers must stay in control of the vehicles when its tech is being used.

The company sells its expensive feature on its potential future capabilities, which are constantly updated via over the air software updates.

They cost less if buyers pay for them up-front, before they are functional. Tesla says the features are available “subject to government approvals”.

Tesla boss Elon Musk has been outspoken on the controversial tech and its ability. In December he claimed the brand would roll out fully self-driving capabilities in 2021.

“I am extremely confident of achieving full autonomy and releasing it to the Tesla customer base next year,” he said.

Tesla’s other self driving feature dubbed Autopilot has recently come under fire, too.

In 2020 a German court ruled Tesla’s Autopilot name was misleading. The ruling could force the car maker to market its features differently in the future.

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