Tesla was recently in the news after an accident occurred in Texas where two men were killed. The two men were in a 2019 Model S using Autopilot, allegedly with no one behind the steering wheel. The car veered off the road, hit a tree, and burst into flames, killing both occupants. In the wake of that accident, engineers from Consumer Reports have shown how easy it is to defeat Tesla’s monitoring system.
The publication says its engineers were able to easily trick its Tesla Model Y to allow it to drive on autopilot without anyone in the driver’s seat. During several trips on a closed test track, the Model Y was able to steer along painted lines automatically and sent out no warning or indication that the driver seat was empty.
Consumer Reports says in its evaluation the system not only failed to make sure the driver was paying attention but was unable to tell if there was a driver behind the wheel at all. The publication says Tesla is falling behind other automakers that use technology to ensure the driver is looking at the road. The investigation into last weekend’s fatal Tesla accident is still ongoing.
However, one constable on the accident scene said that he’s almost certain no one was in the driver’s seat when the vehicle crashed. Investigation into that fatal accident is ongoing, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeting earlier in the week that data recovered from the logs suggested Autopilot was not enabled.
Musk has suggested that it would be impossible to activate autopilot on the road where the accident occurred because it had no painted lines. The crash is currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The publication engaged autopilot while the car was in motion on a track and then set the speed dial to zero, bringing the car to a stop. A small weighted chain was then placed on the steering wheel to simulate a driver’s hand, and the driver then slid over to the passenger seat without opening doors. Steering wheel controls were then used to control the vehicle’s speed, which drove as if someone was in the seat.