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How Safe Are Systems Like Tesla's Autopilot? No One Knows


Tesla publishes a safety report every three months on its Autopilot driver-assistance system, but experts say the report does not provide a complete picture.

Credit: Roger Kisby/The New York Times

Every three months, Tesla publishes a safety report that provides the number of miles between crashes when drivers use the company's driver-assistance system, Autopilot, and the number of miles between crashes when they do not.

These figures always show that accidents are less frequent with Autopilot, a collection of technologies that can steer, brake and accelerate Tesla vehicles on its own.

But the numbers are misleading. Autopilot is used mainly for highway driving, which is generally twice as safe as driving on city streets, according to the Department of Transportation. Fewer crashes may occur with Autopilot merely because it is typically used in safer situations.

Tesla has not provided data that would allow a comparison of Autopilot's safety on the same kinds of roads. Neither have other carmakers that offer similar systems.

From The New York Times
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