German Transport Ministry Reportedly Calls Tesla's Autopilot A 'Traffic Hazard'

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An internal report from Germany’s Transport Ministry refers to the Autopilot system on the Tesla Model S as a “considerable traffic hazard,” according to a report from Reuters. Researchers reportedly had a number of criticisms after testing the driver-assistance system.

German magazine Der Spiegel originally reported seeing the internal report, per Reuters. Before getting to the criticisms of the system, it should be noted that Tesla’s autopilot and the other semi-autonomous systems currently on the road are called “driver-assistance systems.” They’re meant to be used only with the full attention of the driver, and they periodically remind said driver to touch the wheel and reaffirm that he or she is paying attention to the road.


The report, according to Reuters, concluded that drivers are not alerted when the car is in a situation that the Autopilot system cannot solve. The report also said that in the tests, sensors on the car did not detect objects far back enough when overtaking another vehicle and the emergency brake performs inadequately.

The ministry told Reuters that tests are still being conducted on the system, and a final evaluation on has not yet been taken. Der Spiegel reported that German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt knew of the report on the car’s system, but did not want to take the Model S out of service.

Reports of this evaluation come just under a month after Tesla released an updated version of its Autopilot system, which company CEO Elon Musk said he believes would have saved the life of a driver involved in a fatal crash in May. The update included putting a heavier reliance on radar detection, moving from primarily depending on cameras for the system to “see” objects. Translations of the Der Spiegel report, originally in German, do not say whether this evaluation was on the newest update to the Autopilot system, version 8.0.

Here’s what Tesla had to say about the system, according to Reuters:

Tesla 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.


If anything, the Autopilot update is incredibly adamant in insisting that a driver needs to take over the wheel when appropriate. But no matter the situation, Tesla continues to insist that drivers must stay alert to the road and their surroundings.

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Alanis King

Alanis King is a staff writer at Jalopnik.