It’s been a year since the California Department of Motor Vehicles opened an investigation into Tesla’s sales pitch for Full Self-Driving, a $12,000 software package that allegedly allows Tesla cars to drive autonomously through the streets in city and surrounding area.
It’s been nearly six months since the agency, under pressure from the Senate Transportation Committee, opened an investigation into the safety issues surrounding Full Self-Driving.
What did those investigations reveal?
The DMV won’t say.
When can the results be made public?
The DMV won’t say.
Why is it taking so long?
The DMV won’t say.
For Transportation Commission President Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), the time for non-response has passed.
“Senator Gonzalez has informed the DMV well of her displeasure with the lack of action on this important public safety issue,” the lawmaker’s media spokesman said in a statement. an email Wednesday to The Times.
The senator asked the DMV to provide a timeline but “the DMV has made it clear that there is no timeline nor expected completion date for the investigation,” the email said.
Gonzalez is contemplating a legislative hearing on the matter. Her office said there are currently no scheduled hearings, “but this could change as we continue to monitor the progress of the investigation.”
The DMV told The Times “The review is ongoing and we’ll contact you when it’s complete.”
The internet is flooded with videos of the erratic and dangerous behavior of Full Self-Driving cars. Tesla’s May 12 crash in Newport Beach, which killed three occupants and injured several construction workers, is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in part to See if Tesla Autopilot or Full Self-Driving were both done right before or during the crash. .
One of the DMV investigations into whether Tesla was misleading the marketing of its robotic car feature by using the term Full Self-Driving on its online order form and elsewhere on its website theirs or not. State regulations forbid automakers from using marketing language to imply a car is capable of self-driving when it’s not. That investigation was launched in May 2021.
The DMV’s investigation into the issues raised by Gonzalez is entering its sixth month with no end in sight. Gonzalez asked the DMV to “evaluate FSD beta tests,” for information on how the DMV would respond to the situation if it believes Full Self-Driving is unsafe and whether it is dangerous to the public.
For the last year, The Times has sought an interview with DMV head Steve Gordon, a former Silicon Valley executive, but his media relations team has turned them down each time. Gordon has also denied similar requests from other media. The Times has requested to speak with Governor Gavin Newsom or his designee about why his administration has not discussed the matter. The governor’s staff referred the question to the DMV.
Meanwhile, the problem continued.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating 42 accidents involving robot-controlled automated driving systems. Of which, 35 are Tesla cars and 7 are from other automakers.
Tesla has been selling a Full Self-Driving mode with a growing list of features since 2016. In recent years, the company has increased the number of people who allow “beta” versions of Tesla. In Silicon Valley parlance, beta means a program that works but may contain bugs and is not ready for public release.
On YouTube, Tesla customers are testing the technology on public roads continues post video that shows it’s quickly moving into oncoming traffic past the double yellow line, not stopping for pickups turning ahead, going towards metal posts and pedestrians, etc.
To comply with DMV regulations, companies such as Waymo, Cruise, Argo, Motional and Zoox have used professionally trained test drivers as a safety backup while testing autonomous driving systems. their movements. The companies report all incidents to the DMV and also report what are known as “crashes,” moments when the robotic system fails or faces a situation requiring driver intervention. .
Tesla’s exemption from those regulations is an issue specifically analyzed by the DMV. The agency, through public documents and previous statements by the media relations department, has said that Full Self-Driving is a driver assistance system, not a self-driving system.
Gordon told Gonzalez in a five-page letter in January that the feature is “outside the scope of the DMV’s autonomous vehicle regulations” because it requires human control. He noted that the DMV’s regulations only apply to fully self-driving cars but said the agency would “reconsider” that stance.
In defense of the position of Gonzalez and others, DMV officials cited consulting work done on behalf of the agency by UC Berkeley’s California Partnership for Advanced Transportation Technology, or PATH.
But Steven E. Shladover, a research engineer at PATH, says the team’s work with the DMV is purely technical, focusing on the capabilities of the automated system.
“We are not legal experts,” he said in a phone interview. “It was just a contract to support research to provide technical advice during implementation.”
Tesla has made clear its “design intent” for fully autonomous driving is autonomous driving, Shladover said, and he believes the company’s use of the term is “very harmful to people in the industry.” [autonomous vehicle] industry, because it would make the entire industry a black eye”, based on the incomplete “beta” status of its technology.
Shladover said he wants more scrutiny at the state and national level — and not take any punches. “This is the job of NHTSA at the federal level,” he said. “I want to see NHTSA stomp on them.”
Autonomous vehicle law expert Bryant Walker Smith at the University of South Carolina has spoken and written extensively about the ambiguous nature of DMV rules, crafted in language conducive to exploiting “language flaws.” “Tesla’s use of ‘FSD’ is very misleading,” he wrote in a December article for Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.
His article notes that the Society of Automotive Engineers, whose definition of vehicle autonomy is widely used by regulators, claims in official documents that it is “incorrect” when assumes a system is not self-propelled because the test vehicles require a human operator.
Smith noted that Elon Musk often states publicly that full autonomy for Tesla vehicles is coming, so Full Self-Driving is being tested as a completely driverless system and will therefore be are subject to the same DMV regulations as all other companies.
Is the DMV closer to adopting that position than it was 5 months ago?
The DMV won’t say.
https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-05-26/dmv-tesla-year-long-slow-walk Why is the DMV’s Tesla investigation so slow?