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Apple Co-Founder Is Skeptical of Tesla’s Promises on Autopilot

Steve Wozniak’s relationship with Tesla is complicated. The Apple co-founder is both a fan and critic, an early adopter, and a deserter.

More recently, Wozniak is playing the role of Tesla dissident.

The tech entrepreneur told CNBC at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas there is “way too much hype” around Tesla and that the company can’t be counted on to do what it says it will.

He focused his critics on the company’s Autopilot feature, which provides several advanced driver assistance features that when combined provides what some describe as “semi-autonomous” capabilities. It’s supposed to allow Tesla vehicles to drive keep within a lane, match speed to traffic conditions, and automatically change lanes without requiring help from the driver. Enhanced Autopilot is supposed to add even more features.

Wozniak said Tesla’s claims about its cars’ self-driving capabilities are “overblown, adding later that Tesla has deceived its customers.

Wozniak’s comments echo other owners who have waited for Tesla CEO Elon Musk to deliver on his promise that new Model S and Model X cars built as of October 2016 would be equipped with what the company calls Hardware 2—a more robust suite of sensors, cameras, and radar and software that will enable them to (eventually) drive autonomously—without human intervention in almost all circumstances.

Those public claims from Musk—and his willingness to take money from customers for eventual full-self-driving capabilities—led to internal strife within the team of engineers working on Autopilot, some of whom left the company shortly afterwards.

Tesla customers can order “Full Self-Driving Capability,” when they buy a new car. These vehicles have eight cameras (not the standard four), ultrasonic sensors, radar, and a supercomputer capable of processing data 40 times faster than previously. The self-driving package costs $8,000.

Tesla does contain disclaimers that the full self-driving software will require “extensive validation” and regulatory approval before that can be rolled out.

However, updates to the Autopilot software have been repeatedly delayed and features that were found on the previous version of the software (found in hardware 1 vehicles) still haven’t been added. It’s caused frustration among some—but certainly not all—of Tesla’s typically loyal customer base.