“We fear that Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features are not as mature and reliable as the company pitches to the public,” the two Democratic senators said in a letter to Lina Khan, chair of the FTC.
“Tesla and Mr. Musk’s repeated overstatements of their vehicle’s capabilities — despite clear and frequent warnings — demonstrate a deeply concerning disregard for the safety of those on the road and require real accountability,” the letter continued. “Their claims put Tesla drivers — and all of the traveling public — at risk of serious injury or death.”
The FTC is charged with investigating complaints of deceptive claims made by companies and take enforcement action against “unfair and deceptive acts or practices.” The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk is a strong advocate of self-driving technology. The current federal probe and call for a second one come as Musk prepares for Tesla’s”AI Day” on Thursday to talk about advances in the company’s artificial intelligence and the promise of self-driving.
The FSD feature is an extra option that is still under development by Tesla.
Even though safety advocates are in favor of these kinds of crash-avoidance features, many have long been critical of Tesla’s use of the term “Autopilot,” saying it encourages drivers to become inattentive despite the formal warnings that drivers should stay alert. There are videos of Tesla drivers sleeping behind the wheel, reading and even having sex, as well as videos of the cars operating without anyone in the driver’s seat.
Blumenthal and Markey echoed those concerns about the Autopilot and FSD features encouraging dangerous behavior.
“Tesla drivers listen to these claims and believe their vehicles are equipped to drive themselves — with potentially deadly consequences,” they said, citing reports of 11 deaths involving Tesla crashes when Autopilot was engaged.