You know things are bad for Tesla's "autopilot" when regulators are not only blaming Tesla, but turning on other regulators. This is what happened on Tuesday, when the NTSB criticized Tesla's "lack of system safeguards" during a fatal 2018 Autopilot crash in California. They also faulted the "scant oversight" of U.S. regulators, according to Reuters.
The chairman of the NTSB, Robert Sumwalt, said that Tesla ignored safety recommendations issued in 2017 by the agency. "It’s been 881 days since these recommendations were sent to Tesla. We’re still waiting," he said.
“Industry keeps implementing technology in such a way that people can get injured to killed, including this board’s recommendations intended to help them prevent such tragedies,” Sumwalt continued.
Since 2016, the company's Autopilot has been tied to at least 3 fatal accidents. And why would Elon Musk rush to correct its behavior or pay attention to NTSB recommendations when there is no negative consequence to ignoring them?
Meanwhile, the NHTSA has been absolutely non-existent in forcing recalls or acting to sanction or regulate Tesla in any way. Recall, in late January, Senator Ed Markey said that Tesla should rebrand its driver-assist technologies and take "additional steps to ensure drivers pay attention to the road while using the system.". Markey has been critical of Tesla's driver-assist feature dating back months.
“Autopilot is a flawed system, but I believe its dangers can be overcome,” Markey said.
Markey also said he believes that Autopilot "promotes confusion about the limits of the system and the name undermines user manuals and instructions stressing drivers must remain in control of the car."
Tesla all but thumbed its nose at Markey in the same way it has been thumbing its nose at auto regulators.
Which once again begs the questions we have been asking for years now: how long is the world's love affair going to last allowing Elon Musk to get away with any behavior that he wants? How many people will have to die before the NHTSA pays attention and regulators sanction Tesla and Musk?
This is, of course, a rhetorical question, and the answer is simple: "as long as the stock keeps moving higher."