German Report: Tesla's Autopilot is a 'Considerable Traffic Hazard'

German testers find Tesla's Autopilot feature didn't do well in certain road conditions.

Posted in News

— German auto safety engineers aren't happy with Tesla's "Autopilot" after the semi-autonomous system was put through its paces during thousands of miles of driving on German roads.

The study was conducted by Germany's Federal Highway Research Institute, a scientific research institute of the German government in the field of road engineering. The study was commissioned after reports of accidents that occurred with Autopilot allegedly engaged.

In short, German researchers found Tesla's Autopilot feature creates a “considerable traffic hazard” and causes serious problems on the roads. However, German media say the revelations come from an internal report that hasn't been concluded and made public, so the study hasn't yet been finalized.

The Model S allegedly had problems following lane markings in a construction zone and ignored yellow lines, used to indicate a change of route on German roads, and instead followed white lines located under the yellow lines.

Sensors used to "look" into a secondary lane before passing another vehicle allegedly look backward only 131 feet, which doesn't leave enough reaction time when vehicles are traveling at high speeds.

If a road had no lines are markings, the Model S didn't know what to do other than follow the car in front, meaning if the car in front moved to the left, so did the Model S, even if a car was traveling next to the Tesla.

The report also says German officials are not happy with Tesla using the term "Autopilot" for technology that is not truly autonomous, giving drivers a false sense of security.

The same argument was given by a driver in China after the crash of a Tesla Model S where the driver said Tesla pushed the cars as being "self-driving."

After the August 2016 crash, Tesla updated it China website by removing language that in Chinese means, "self-driving."

Tesla quickly responded to the German report by saying the company has always made the point to consumers that Autopilot is meant to assist a driver, not take control from a driver. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also said the German reports were not based on science and that using Autopilot is safer than driving without the feature.