Tesla needs to address 'basic safety issues' before expanding tech, says NTSB chief

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Before Tesla considers rolling out a further expansion of its semi-autonomous driving technology, the automaker should take a hard look at what it's already released, according to Jennifer Homendy, head of the National Transportation Safety Board. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Homendy said, "Basic safety issues have to be addressed before they’re then expanding it to other city streets and other areas."

Homendy further suggested that Tesla "has clearly misled numerous people to misuse and abuse technology." It seems Homendy is referring in part to what she calls "misleading and irresponsible" naming and marketing of the automaker's technology, which includes provisions to automatically steer, accelerate and brake but requires the full attention of a licensed driver who is ready and able to take over if and when the software encounters a situation it can't handle. Tesla calls some of its technologies "Full Self Driving" and "Autopilot," despite the fact that the vehicles are not actually capable of autonomously driving themselves.

Tesla chief Elon Musk said earlier this month on Twitter that the automaker would launch the 10th version of its Full Self Driving (FSD) tech this month, which sounds good since Musk said the current Beta version 9.2 is "actually not great." For those not keeping track, Musk and Tesla have been talking about FSD for a couple of years now and the current cost for new buyers is $10,000. Still, Tesla only activates the software needed to run the semi-autonomous tech on a case-by-case basis for certain owners who are part of the automaker's early access program.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating Tesla's Autopilot technology following an alarming number of crashes with stationary emergency vehicles. Two U.S. senators have similarly called on the Federal Trade Commission to probe Tesla for misleading statements about its semi-autonomous tech.

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