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Tesla's Autopilot problem is much bigger than it seemed

Tesla has been puffing up, for years, for the autonomous driving functions of its vehicles . And yes, it is true that during their first years they were the reference in this regard, and that this also served as a push for other companies, both veterans of the sector and others of new creation and also some of the technological sector, decided to dedicate part of their their efforts to contribute to the evolution of this technology called to substantially change the paradigm of mobility.

The problem, as with practically everything related to Elon Musk, is that reality and fiction, truth and lies, are mixed together like meat and fat in Kobe beef , making it very difficult to separate the two parts. . In the case of the ox, this is something very positive, of course, but if we are talking about the communication of a motor company, we will be talking about a problem, a very big problem.

As I remembered a few hours ago, in the news about the complicated relationship between the European Union and Twitter , Elon Musk announced level 5 autonomous driving in Tesla by the end of 2021 . And it was not the first time, as in 2016 he stated that Tesla would reach that level in 2018. However, the statement of the engineer who is most responsible for these functions in the company served to once again deny a promise by Musk. Well, time has also served that purpose, since we are in May 2023, Tesla is still at level 2, while the German Mercedes already has several authorizations on both sides of the Atlantic to activate level 3 .

Tesla’s autonomous driving functions, Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, have problems, serious problems, legal problems , problems and, this image is the most worrying thing, serious operating problems, something that has led various authorities to carry out carry out investigations in this regard . Some problems that arise, as we have stated on many occasions before, by selling smoke and lies to some trusting customers who, by God, when they read that there is a function called Full Self-Driving, they think that they are indeed going to find themselves with a car capable of driving itself.

Tesla's Autopilot problem is much bigger than it seemed

It seems, however, that what we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg. According to an investigation carried out by the German outlet Handelsblatt, which has had access to leaked company documents, Tesla has received thousands of safety complaints about autonomous driving features from its customers . According to Tesla, which has not denied the veracity of said information, the leak originated from a disgruntled former employee who decided to exfiltrate the information. They have not responded to Handelsblatt’s request for information, but they have tried to intimidate Handelsblatt by stating that it is illegal to publish such information . They have also spoken about their intentions to denounce said former worker. The issue of security and its users… that seems much less important for the company, wow.

The leak, which consists of around 100 gigabytes of documents (around 23,000), and which the outlet claims to have obtained from various informants, collects complaints received between 2015 and March 2022, mainly from the United States, but with some that have their origin in Europe and Asia. Within that period, Tesla received 2,400 reports of auto-acceleration issues and 1,500 reports of braking function issues , 139 of which alerted to unintentional emergency braking and 383 to false collision warning phantom stops. The documentation, extensively analyzed by the German media, includes more than 1,000 accident reports and a table of 3,000 incidents in which drivers raised safety concerns about Tesla’s driving assistance system.

As a very revealing aspect of Tesla’s communication policy, the exfiltrated information also found documents with instructions for employees on how they should communicate with customers in this type of circumstance: no copying and pasting texts in emails, no sending recordings of calls by email, no text messages… in short, only verbal communications with clients , a type of communication that, of course, is much more difficult to prove afterwards if you have the need or interest in do it.


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