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Activist Ralph Nader urges regulators to recall Tesla’s self-driving technology

The man who forever changed vehicle safety standards in the United States has a scathing new message for self-driving car technology from Elon Musk and Tesla: He thinks it’s dangerous and regulators should s ‘imply.

Musk has been touting self-driving cars as the next big thing for years, saying in 2015 that self-driving vehicles would be on the road within two years. While that timeline hasn’t come to fruition, Musk hasn’t given up on his dream yet, nor has he tempered his ambitions. In May 2022, he said Fully Self-Driving Cars (FSD) should be available by the same date next year.

But Musk’s big goal of accelerating the rollout of self-driving cars has not been without controversy. Now Ralph Nader, a four-time presidential candidate and progenitor of modern vehicle safety standards, has made his views on FSD vehicles clear.

Nader called Tesla’s use of FSD systems in its cars “one of the most dangerous and irresponsible actions by an automaker in decades” and that Tesla would “never put this technology in its vehicles.” , in a press release posted Wednesday on his personal website. .

He also urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall the FSD technology from every Tesla vehicle on the road.

“I call on federal regulators to act immediately to prevent the growing number of deaths and injuries from Tesla manslaughter crashes with this technology,” he wrote.

Tesla did not immediately respond to Fortunerequest for comment.

A powerful adversary

Nader has long been one of the most influential figures in the American auto industry.

He’s been both a celebrity and an outcast for automakers since 1965, when he published his bestselling book Dangerous at any speeda scathing look at the auto industry and its refusal to implement and recommend safety features such as seat belts, airbags and anti-lock brakes.

Nader’s book called for greater government oversight of manufacturers and tighter regulation of vehicle safety standards, ultimately leading to the formation of the federal agency that would become NHTSA, a group that describes its mission as “saving lives, prevent injuries and reduce economic costs”. because of road accidents. »

For his contributions to vehicle safety, Nader was even inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2016.

Autonomous driving controversy

Despite the delays in bringing self-driving cars to market, Musk is still confident the technology will become a crucial part of Tesla’s business.

“The overarching goal is to resolve complete self-driving,” Musk said in an interview last June. “It’s essential, and it’s really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money and being worth practically zero.”

But Nader’s criticisms of automated vehicles are just the latest in a series of doubts and hurdles for Tesla’s FSD ambitions, as owners have reported vehicles braking on freeways for no reason, while others said the cars had faulty sensors. stop unexpectedly and misidentify objects on the road.

Tesla’s self-driving cars have been under investigation by NHTSA since last year, when the agency opened a “preliminary assessment” into 11 reported crashes caused by Tesla vehicles equipped with its Autopilot features or traffic sensitive cruise control. The crashes injured 17 people and killed one woman.

Last June, the agency upgraded its investigation to “technical analysis” status, which will open the company and the Autopilot system to a higher level of scrutiny. At the time, NHTSA said it was investigating no fewer than 35 crashes that occurred with the autopilot engaged, including nine fatalities resulting in 14 fatalities, the New York Times reported. The agency said it has not confirmed whether these crashes were directly the result of autopilot faults.

Also in June, NHTSA announced that it had received 400 crash reports in the past 10 months involving vehicles equipped with FSD systems, 273 of which were Teslas.

In his statement, Nader urged the public to get the government involved and called for tighter regulation of FSD use in Tesla vehicles.

“Together, we must send an urgent message to loss-conscious regulators that Americans should not be test dummies for a powerful, high-profile corporation and its famous CEO. No one is above the law. on manslaughter,” he wrote.

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