Consumer Reports found that the driver often needed to intervene to prevent the technology making a poor decision.
Pitched by Tesla in a blog post as offering a more seamless form of navigation, the lane-changing feature was claimed to allow lane changes to happen automatically without human intervention. Instead, as long as the auto knows the route the driver is trying to take, it is able to initiate its own lane changes. The vehicle will even activate the turn signals (something that we can't always say for many BMW drivers) as it changes lanes. Consumer Reports found that cars in autopilot mode often cut off other vehicles or broke laws while trying to pass.
When drivers choose the system, they are warned that it does not make the vehicle autonomous and that they have to remain in control, the company said. "It's incredibly nearsighted. It doesn't appear to react to brake lights or turn signals, it can't anticipate what other drivers will do, and as a result, you constantly have to be one step ahead of it".
Additionally, Consumer Reports cited Shiv Patel, an analyst at research firm ABI Research, who notes that while Tesla is further along with its autonomous driving technology than other automakers, the Navigate on Autopilot system's "current hardware does not have the computing power required to support full self-driving features".
Consumer Reports did not have kind things to say about Navigate on Autopilot after a thorough test of its capabilities.
By the following May, a Model S operating in self-driving mode was involved in a fatal crash.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been claiming the new version of Autopilot is essentially fully autonomous. "The Navigate on Autopilot driver-assist feature overpromises and under-delivers, with lives on the line", David Friedman, the publication's vice president of advocacy, said. According to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the driver had turned on autopilot about 10 seconds before the March 1 crash.
"The system has trouble responding to vehicles that approach quickly from behind", Fisher says.
The system won't change lanes unless hands are detected on the steering wheel and Tesla gives owners the option of requiring a lane change confirmation if desired.
The technology also conducted several passing maneuvers that violate road laws where the vehicle was being driven. He's said he does, however, predict that will be the case by the end of 2020.
"Tesla is showing what not to do on the path toward self-driving cars: release increasingly automated driving systems that aren't vetted properly".
However, the Consumer Reports review casts doubt on long running Tesla claims its cars were safer at driving than humans.