Tesla misses key technology target

Photo: EPA

The producer of electric cars Tesla admitted it would miss a target set by its majority owner Elon Musk - to develop full self-driving vehicles by the end of 2021, Reuters reported. The announcement seriously undermines Tesla ambitions to influence the global EV market. Documents released in media earlier this week showed that the company is falling behind announced deadlines while incidents with EVs continue to rise.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during an earnings conference call in January that he was "highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year." Tesla has also rolled out what it describes as a "beta" version of its "full self-driving" (FSD) programme to a limited number of employees and customers since October, and Musk has touted the capability on Twitter.

"Elon's tweet does not match engineering reality per CJ. Tesla is at Level 2 currently," the California DMV said in a memo about its 9 March conference call with Tesla representatives, including autopilot engineer CJ Moore. Level 2 technology refers to a semi-automated driving system, which requires supervision by a human driver.

The memo was released by legal transparency group PlainSite, which obtained it under the Freedom of Information Act. "Tesla indicated that Elon is extrapolating on the rates of improvement when speaking about L5 capabilities. Tesla couldn’t say if the rate of improvement would make it to L5 by end of calendar year," the memo said, referring to level 5 full autonomous technology.

"Tesla indicated that they are still firmly in L2," California DMV said in the memo. "As Tesla is aware, the public’s misunderstanding about the limits of the technology and its misuse can have tragic consequences." The California Highway Patrol is investigating why a Tesla vehicle crashed into an overturned truck on a highway near Fontana, California, killing the Tesla’s driver. The patrol did not say whether the Tesla was operating on Autopilot or not. Federal highway safety regulators are investigating more than 20 accidents involving Tesla vehicles.

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