Using the term “autonomous” to describe its driver-assistance service, the electric car manufacturer, according to a state regulator, misled the public.
In two accusations that may have an impact on the company’s ability to sell cars in the state, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has charged Tesla with falsely misrepresenting its driver-assistance technology.
By saying in marketing that cars with its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability technologies were autonomous, the agency claimed Tesla had deceived consumers. Tesla’s licenses to produce and sell automobiles in California may be suspended or canceled if the agency’s allegations are upheld by the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings.
In its complaints, the agency claimed that Tesla “made or distributed representations that are inaccurate or misleading, and not based on facts, in promoting automobiles as equipped, or possibly equipped, with advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) capabilities.” The accusations were submitted on July 28.
Prior to this, The Los Angeles Times published a piece on the agency’s complaints, which are unrelated to its evaluation of Tesla’s car designs and technological prowess.
A request for comment on Friday night did not receive a prompt response from Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, or the company’s attorney.
According to Tesla’s online marketing materials, its driver-assistance technology can make trips “without any movement from the person in the driver’s seat.” The programs “need active driver supervision,” Tesla says in its disclaimer, but the FCC found that this claim and others were incorrect and deceptive.
The company’s cars can steer, brake, and accelerate on their own thanks to the Autopilot technology, which has been in use since 2015. However, because it is primarily intended for usage on highways, the manufacturer’s documentation advises drivers to retain their hands on the wheel and take control of the vehicle in the event that the system fails.
Its name is derived from aviation systems that let aircraft fly by themselves under perfect circumstances with little assistance from a pilot. If drivers don’t constantly retain one hand on the wheel as it is now, the car will disengage Autopilot.
Car owners can get Full Self-Driving, a system that enhances Autopilot, for an additional cost that might reach $12,000.
The extra features won’t matter much to the average customer. On city streets, for example, the vehicle will stop at a red light, but it won’t move forward after a green light until the driver acts.
About 100,000 Full Self-Driving purchasers, according to Mr. Musk, had access to a “beta” test version of the service in May. This version allowed drivers to more thoroughly traversing city streets while still keeping their hands on the wheel in case something went wrong.
Additionally, he predicted that Full Self-Driving would be “feature complete” and accessible to around a million car owners by the end of the year.
Mr. Musk started predicting that Teslas would be self-driving in two years at the end of 2015, the year Autopilot was introduced. Since then, he has asserted on numerous occasions that such a capability is just a year or two away.
He claimed in May that there were “simply so many false dawns” with autonomous driving. “You believe you have the issue under control, but nope, it turns out you just hit a ceiling,” the speaker said.
After learning of 35 collisions involving the system, including nine that resulted in 14 fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the nation’s top auto safety regulator, launched an investigation into Autopilot. Its examination will focus on the 830,000 vehicles sold in the US and will examine both Full Self-Driving and Autopilot.
Tesla has until next Friday to refute or otherwise reply to the charges brought by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.