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Tesla Recalling Self-Driving Cars for Being Self-Crashing

There's a reason why this feature was banned in Europe.

Elon Musk strikes a strange pose in front of a Tesla car.

If I were a Tesla shareholder, I wouldn’t be very happy with Elon Musk right now. At some point, with the stock falling and now a massive recall underway for “Teslas equipped with Full-Self Driving Beta” you have to maybe start to suspect he’s not a god-tier-level genius playing 4-D chess while we’re all playing checkers and start to consider the possibility he might just be a thin-skinned moron who you never should have given money to.

Yes, that’s right, there is a massive voluntary recall underway for Teslas with the Full-Self Driving Beta. Per Slate:

On Wednesday the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a massive recall of Teslas equipped with Full-Self Driving Beta, the technology that enables vehicles to control aspects of driving, such as turning and adjusting speed, in urban environments. The FSD package, which currently costs Tesla owners an additional $15,000 when they buy their cars, requires the driver to be watching the road at all times (although Tesla enthusiasts have figured out ways to trick the cars’ attention guardrails for years). The NHTSA recall affects over 360,000 Teslas with FSD, which is pretty much all of them.

This technology should never have been on the road. Now, the weird army of dorks who think Elon Musk can do no wrong will defend this decision by saying I’m wrong and leave it at that, and to them I say nothing because they’re weird and need a better hobby.

For those of you who actually want to engage with this issue, the technology isn’t vetted or tested. Tesla literally was using American drivers as guinea pigs to work out the kinks in the technology because there is no legislation that governs “automated car technology be tested and approved for safety before being offered to the public,” which experts warned was dangerous. This is bonkers! Tesla never rolled out this feature to their cars in Europe because there is legislation there that mandates the technology needs to be tested, vetted, and safe. From Slate:

Notably, there is no similar FSD recall in the European Union, because Tesla hasn’t received the green light to offer it there. Until regulators grant that permission, Tesla can’t sell FSD to Europeans. During a speech last year in Berlin, Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself summarized the difference in transatlantic car regulations: “In the U.S. things are legal by default, and in Europe they’re illegal by default.”

Gee, it makes me feel better that a massive publically traded car company is taking advantage of this by using American drivers as guinea pigs for its technology, which now has to be recalled for being wildly unsafe, don’t you? Definitely makes me feel like Tesla has the interests of American consumers at heart. The article continued:

Unless and until NHTSA identifies a pattern of failures, which the new recall suggests has happened with FSD, the agency cannot protect Americans from recklessly designed software or ADAS technology. Tesla’s defenders might argue that those who bought FSD accepted its risks, but that cannot be true for others on the road, including drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and emergency responders.

So essentially, what happened is we all had to be unwitting, unpaid, unconsenting guinea pigs of a company’s grand test. This should make everyone furious. We’re not talking about installing moonroofs on cars here; this put everyone’s safety at risk because rich jackasses wanted to play with their dangerous toys on the road.

This feature takes the human component out of driving and, once it’s done right, that will be a game changer. However, if we want to do it right, and not the Tesla way, America faces an uphill battle because we need to revamp the entire way car features are rolled out. Per Slate:

Requiring pre-approval would fix this problem by forcing carmakers to demonstrate the safety of their new technologies before the public is exposed to them. As intuitive as that might sound, adopting such a standard in the U.S. would be no easy lift. Congress would need to get behind it, granting NHTSA new authorities and expanding its workforce. Such a proposal is all but guaranteed to face ferocious opposition from carmakers fearing that its adoption would add time and expense to their efforts to bring new technologies to market

Basically, we’re back to the real American tradition of putting corporate interests ahead of the American people. That’s about as American as apple pie. This would undoubtedly save lives but would stop car manufacturers like Tesla from putting dangerous, untested features on the road, so obviously, it would face tremendous pushback. Personally, I think it’s worth it, but who am I? Just a regular American who leaves her home occasionally and doesn’t want to be run over by an idiot using a self-driving feature on the road. I’m not Elon Musk, for better or worse.

(featured image: Christian Marquardt – Pool/Getty Images)

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