NTSB Increases Questions Over Tesla Autopilot

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After the unfortunate death of Joshua Brown using the autopilot on his Tesla, the NTSB has opened an investigation into the self driving feature. Elan Musk has defended the feature vigorously while reminding people it is still in beta mode.

The concept of a self driving car has been a staple for decades.  There have been several working demonstrations of the technology, but the first commercially available, fully functional autopilot system was recently introduced by Tesla. The cars that have most recently adopted the technology hit the roads with lots of fan fare.

Of course there were extremists on both sides that took to the airwaves to decry the technology. One side felt it was like machines taking over in a Skynet-like way, and others believed the technology was far more advanced that it really was capable at this point. Unfortunately for Mr. Brown, he fell in the second category.  He posted several YouTube videos using the autopilot feature without his hands on the wheel as the instructions say you should.

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The tragic death of Joshua Brown was what the media needed to create flamboyant headlines about the failures of the the technology and to drive an agenda. It has been clearly stated that the autopilot feature is still in beta, or test phase. If you read some of the articles written or the statements made, you would have thought they announced it as a fully functioning autonomous system. That is just not the case. It is still in development at the consumer level. Just like the iPhone, Siri was a beta application that was a feature on all iPhones that was still being developed, but needed a broader scale of consumer use to perfect the technology.

The attention to Mr. Browns accident has forced the National Transportation and Safety Board to open an expanded investigation into the self driving system. The videos show that Mr. Brown clearly was not following the instructions for using the feature, the media attention has opened a door for some to get attention and politicians never miss an opportunity to get in the headlines. Tesla founder Elan Musk has defended his companies feature very publicly during interviews and on social media.

The easy thing for Tesla to do would be to remove the autopilot system and just go with the status quo, but that is not their style. Tesla is a trying to drive the future of automotive technology and believes its autopilot system is a part of that future. There have been some recent reports of Tesla not wanting to totally open its technology to the NTSB for the investigation. With all the time and money Tesla has in developing its autopilot feature, why should they trust a government agency with the proprietary programming they have developed? They have given all their development and testing information to the agency to show they did their due diligence in development.

Government regulation has had a chilling affect on development in the automotive industry. Tesla in some of its nontraditional methods, has angered several in the automotive industry and the politicians that they support. This has opened a window for them to extract revenge for what they feel has been some unfair business practices by Tesla. Don’t be fooled by all the hot air being spread around the news shows.  This was one accident by someone who regularly used the feature incorrectly. This is about revenge and some seeing a chance at payback against a company trying to do things differently.