Tesla’s Autopilot has been in the headlines quite a bit lately after reports that a Tesla Model S crashed into a tree, killing two occupants, all without a driver behind the wheel.
Soon after the accident CEO Elon Musk said the initial data retrieved from the vehicle showed Autopilot was not engaged at the time of the crash. That was followed up in the Q1 2021 earnings call where Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering Lars Moravy said a week-long investigation showed the driver-assist and safety features worked as designed – most importantly that the car came to a stop when the driver unbuckled his seatbelt.
“As well, the adaptive cruise control disengaged the car slowly to bring the car to a stop when the driver’s seatbelt was unbuckled,” Moravy said.
Despite this, mainstream media has not backed down from the original stance that Tesla and Autopilot must somehow be to blame. Consumer Reports showed they could get Autopilot to drive without someone behind the wheel, even though it took several complicated steps to bypass the built-in safeguards to prevent someone from trying it.
After their report, Consumer Reports said Tesla was “falling behind other automakers like GM and Ford” who use active driver monitoring systems for their driver-assist features (Ford actually hasn’t turned on that feature yet).
Although they are unlikely to admit it, it looks like Tesla is actually ahead of Ford’s Co-Pilot360. In a recent test, Ryan Levenson from The Kilowatts and YouTuber Minimal Duck (Arash Malek) showed what happens when you unbuckle when Ford’s adaptive cruise control and lane keep feature is activated – nothing.
The car continues to drive, only providing a quiet beep to recognize the seat belt has been unbuckled. Levenson was actually quite shocked by it, saying “I did not expect that, that’s concerning…that’s not a good sign.”
We hope that Consumer Reports sees this and conducts a similar test on both Ford and GM vehicles to provide a fair comparison between the vehicles driver-assist features. Only then can it make claims as to the comparability of Tesla’s Autopilot to other systems.
Check out the shortened clip, which also shows what happens when you unbuckle with Autopilot, and then the full video below.