Tesla's Autopilot feature fails to impress testers

Many New York car buyers may be interested in the advanced autonomous technology offered by Tesla. However, a recent series of tests conducted by Consumer Reports magazine suggest that the company's Autopilot feature may not be as safe as its marketing materials claim. After putting cars equipped with Autopilot through their paces, Consumer Reports concluded that using the system was more stressful than driving.

The Consumer Reports researchers compared using Autopilot to watching a child trying to drive a car. The autonomous system is designed to change lanes, speed up and slow down automatically. However, rigorous testing reveals that it often performs these tasks in unexpected and dangerous ways. Testers discovered that the system reacts poorly when vehicles approach from the rear. They also noticed that its automatic braking feature often engages vigorously, without warning and for no apparent reason.

The Consumer Report tests are the latest in a series of setbacks for Tesla's efforts to introduce autonomous driving features. The carmaker tells drivers to remain alert and vigilant when using Autopilot, but a series of deadly crashes involving Tesla cars equipped with the system reveal that this advice is often ignored. Tesla blames these accidents on driver error and claims that its cars have covered millions of miles without incident when the feature is used properly.

The sensors that systems like Autopilot rely on keep detailed electronic records of both vehicle and driver behavior. This information is often useful to motor vehicle accident investigators, and it could also provide crucial evidence in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a personal injury victim. This is one of the reasons why a personal injury attorney may seek to have the vehicles involved in an accident inspected.

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