When you think about electric cars today, most people’s mind go straight to Tesla—and with good reason. The electric-car maker is not only owned by the genius billionaire Elon Musk, who can’t seem to help staying in the news cycle, but they also have the most advanced self-driving car system available to the average consumer. Unfortunately, a new study found that the Tesla auto-driving feature may not be as safe as everyone thought.
The dispute stems from a 2017 claim by Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that there was a 40 percent reduction in crash rates that resulted in airbag deployment among Tesla vehicles, after they were equipped with Autosteer functionality.
A new study by Quality Control Systems Corp., a data analysis company in Maryland takes issue with the safety agency’s findings. According to Quality Control Systems, the data used by the NHTSA was incomplete and not always properly utilized.
Quality Control Systems used the same dataset to attempt to recreate the NHTSA findings and was unable to achieve the same results. “Our replication of NHTSA’s analysis of the underlying data shows that the agency’s conclusion is not well-founded,” Randy Whitfield, president of Quality Control Systems, wrote in the report.
In a statement, the NHTSA said it is “reviewing the report released by Quality Control Systems Corp. with interest and will provide comment as appropriate.”.
In a time when public perception is obsessed with safety, particularly when it comes to self-driving features, this could prove to be a big issue for Tesla. Particularly because the original NHTSA findings have often been pointed to as evidence for the formal validation of Tesla’s autopilot system.
While Tesla’s self-driving features are very cool, it’s probably best to keep both hands on the wheel for the time being.