Tesla has no plans to disable Autopilot, says Musk
TESLA does not aim to disable the Autopilot self-driving function in its cars despite accidents possibly linked to it, founder Elon Musk told The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Tuesday.
As United States auto safety regulators moved forward in a probe of a fatal accident involving Autopilot in May, he noted that owners of Tesla's luxury electric cars require more education on using the technology.
"A lot of people don't understand what it is and how you turn it on," he added.
He stressed that the company has labelled the technology a "beta" or advanced testing version to indicate that it has not been perfected.
Two recent accidents, one fatal, have involved drivers using Autopilot.
On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a letter, sent to Tesla last week, requesting the company to supply detailed information on the car involved in the deadly May 7 crash in Florida.
It also demanded all Tesla's records of other crashes, driver complaints and details on the functioning of the cars' automatic emergency braking system.
Mr Musk has defended the technology - the most advanced driver-assist system currently available to consumers - as, on the balance, safer than regular cars.
He noted that the Florida accident was the first fatality in a Tesla linked to Autopilot.
"This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated. Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles," the company said last week.
But worries have mounted that the feature has some faults, including not being able to recognise cars halted on the road and that drivers are being lulled into a false sense of safety and not watching the road.
WSJ has catalogued a number of accidents that Tesla drivers say were linked to Autopilot use, including a July 1 incident in Pennsylvania that US regulators are also reportedly looking into.