Tesla Autopilot Feature On Federal Trade Commission ‘Radar’
FTC has not confirmed or denied a probe into Tesla and Autopilot functionality in Tesla vehicles.
The chairperson of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said concerns raised by lawmakers about Tesla Inc’s ‘Autopilot’ driver assistance system are “on our radar.”
Following agency protocols, FTC Chair, Lina Khan, speaking in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, would not confirm nor deny a probe into Tesla.
“It’s absolutely true that, you know, this is an issue on which many members of Congress have focused and written to us about, so it’s certainly something that’s on our radar,” Khan said.
In August, Senators Ed Markey, (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) urged the FTC to probe Tesla, saying the automaker misled consumers and endangered the public by marketing its autonomous driver assistance systems as fully self-driving.
An FTC investigation could potentially lead to a lawsuit seeking to force the company to change how it describes Autopilot’s capabilities. Such a change might take away a key differentiator that Tesla claims over other vehicles.
The August letter came soon after the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a probe into Tesla’s Autopilot and crashes involving parked emergency vehicles.
NHTSA has opened special investigations into 35 crashes involving Tesla vehicles since 2016, in which Autopilot was suspected of being in use. 14 deaths have been reported in those incidents, including three fatalities in a California crash last month.
Tesla says Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over the vehicle at any moment. The company adds that Autopilot and its Full Self-Driving capability do not make the vehicle autonomous.