Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed Markey of Massachusetts demand answers from Tesla about its electric vehicles running stop signs and suddenly braking at highway speeds, also known as ‘phantom braking‘.
The senators said that they wanted explanations from the carmaker about its Full Self-Driving system that can be set up so that the vehicle rolls through intersections with stop signs when no pedestrians or other vehicles are present, and the phantom braking phenomenon that drivers have complained about.
Last fall, Tesla rolled out a software update that allowed drivers to pick an ‘assertive’ mode in the driver-assist function that will have the car roll through intersections at low speeds when no pedestrians or other cars are present. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had questions about this as the car would ignore traffic rules that require you to come to a full stop before proceeding.
Tesla responded to the NHTSA by removing this feature with an over-the-air software update.
Two senators demand answers from Tesla
The two Democratic senators, Blumenthal and Markey have expressed ‘significant concerns over how Tesla uses the public roads to essentially test out new software features.
“While advanced driver assistance and automated driving systems have the potential to improve safety, they must be implemented responsibly and comply with existing traffic laws,” the senators wrote to Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, according to Bloomberg. “When these systems do not meet these essential requirements, they put all of those who use our roads at risk of injury or death.”
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg, which should not come as a surprise as the carmaker had disbanded its public relations department some time ago.
The senators have said that they are “deeply troubled by Tesla’s design choices that seemingly encourage unsafe driving habits. Tesla should not design and implement features for its cars that do not follow the rules of the road”
Tesla has until February 22nd to respond to the six questions senators Blumenthal and Markey have about the software issues.
Photo: Stefani Reynolds / Bloomberg