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German Government Report Critical of Tesla Autopilot

October 7, 2016, 10:28 PM UTC
Tesla Introduces Self-Driving Features With Software Upgrade
A member of the media test drives a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S car equipped with Autopilot in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015.
Photograph by Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Autopilot function on Tesla’s Model S car represents a “considerable traffic hazard,” according to an internal report for Germany’s Transport Ministry seen by magazine Der Spiegel.

Experts in the Federal Highway Research Institute carried out tests on the electric car and criticized it on a number of points, the magazine reported on Friday.

For example, drivers are not alerted by the Autopilot system when the vehicle gets into a situation that the computer cannot solve, Spiegel cited the report as saying.

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In addition, the car’s sensors do not detect far back enough during an overtaking maneuver, while the emergency brake also performs inadequately, according to the report.

Spiegel said Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt was aware of the report but did not want to take the model out of service.

The ministry told Reuters a final evaluation had not yet been taken and further tests were being conducted.

Tesla’s New Autopilot Software Won’t Fix Its Reputation

Tesla (TSLA) said in a statement: “We have always been clear with our customers that Autopilot is a drivers assistance system that requires the driver to pay attention at all times.”

It said the system also included safeguards against driver misuse and that it was not aware of any safeguards as strong in any other car on the road. Tesla added its emergency braking system was also “state of the art” in the industry.

Tesla’s Autopilot, introduced last October, has been the focus of intense scrutiny following news in July that a Model S driver was killed while using the technology in a May 7 collision with a truck in Florida.