Concerns raised about the safety of Tesla’s self-driving vehicles

In a recent interview with the BBC, a former Tesla employee, Lucasz Krupski, expressed his doubts about the safety of Tesla’s self-driving technology. Krupski leaked data, which included customer complaints about Tesla’s braking and self-driving software, to the German newspaper Handelsblatt earlier this year. Despite attempting to raise his concerns internally, he claimed that they were ignored by the company. This raises questions about the safety of Tesla’s autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Krupski specifically raised concerns about the artificial intelligence (AI) used in Tesla’s autopilot service. While the autopilot feature includes assisted steering and parking, it still requires a driver to be present in the vehicle with their hands on the wheel. However, Krupski believes that the hardware and software are not yet ready for use, and using these self-driving vehicles puts not only Tesla owners but also pedestrians at risk.

He found evidence in company data that suggested Tesla did not adhere to the requirements for the safe operation of vehicles with autonomous or assistive-driving technology. Krupski also discovered reports of “phantom braking,” where Tesla vehicles would randomly brake in response to nonexistent obstacles. These reports were also reflected in customer complaints.

The US Department of Justice has been investigating Tesla’s claims about its assisted driving features since January, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has questioned the safety of Tesla’s autopilot system.

Krupski’s leaks were published by Handelsblatt, and the Dutch data protection authority confirmed that it is investigating this data breach. However, being a whistleblower has not been easy for Krupski, as he admitted feeling terrified and losing sleep over it. Nonetheless, his actions have been recognized, and he was awarded the Blueprint for Free Speech Whistleblowing Prize.

This case raises broader concerns about the safety of self-driving technology. Autonomous vehicles are being tested on public roads, and the potential risks need to be addressed. The UK Government recently announced plans for an Automated Vehicles Bill to establish a legal framework for self-driving cars. However, it remains to be seen whether the bill will adequately address the unique challenges posed by this technology.

The safety of Tesla’s self-driving vehicles should be a top priority, as the technology continues to develop. Both Tesla and regulators must address these concerns and ensure that the necessary measures are in place to protect the public and prevent accidents on the road.