Tesla Forced to Drop Latest Autonomous Update

Tesla’s roller-coaster ride continues with it having to withdraw its latest autonomous driving software update following problems reported by consumers.

Hiding behind the fanfare of the automaker sealing a 100,000-vehicle deal with car-rental giant, Hertz, is the news that some motorists discovered intermittent issues such as safety alerts randomly sounding for no apparent reason, the BBC reports. This latest update was binned less than a day after being released on the weekend.

Company boss, Elon Musk, said there were “some issues” with this version but it was “to be expected with beta software”, calling into question once more what some would see as the automaker’s cavalier approach to using consumers as laboratory “guinea pigs” for its technology. Only few hours earlier, Mr Musk said the launch would be delayed because the company’s quality assurance team had found “regression in some left turns at traffic lights”.

UK safety test specialist, Thatcham Research, said there were concerns over Tesla’s move to beta-test new software with real-world drivers. Speaking to the BBC, its director of research, Matthew Avery, said: “The challenge you’ve got is you’re allowing your customers to be the guinea pigs. There are obvious safety challenges with customers trying it out and either misunderstanding it or getting it wrong. There’s a risk that there could be systems that are not safe, which could lead to potential accidents.”

He added that one of the main issues beyond the type of software employed, is that while the automaker uses marketing terminology that suggests Level 4/5 capabilities, the vehicles remain at a much lower level of autonomous technology. Avery said: “There is no such thing as full self-driving. That’s very much a marketing term. These vehicles are still assisted driving… effectively the car supporting you. These systems are not taking over on behalf of the driver.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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