The Autopilot Buddy is marketed as a “nag” reduction device “that can fool” Tesla Inc's semi-autonomous driving system to circumvent a warning when a driver's hands are on the steering wheel, but US regulators have another term for the product : “Unacceptable”.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on June 19 said it was ordering the aftermarket device.
A letter sent by NHTSA to the company, identified on the website autopilotbuddy.com as Dolder, Falco and Reese Partners LLC, orders it to respond by June 29 and certify that distribution and marketing of the product has ended. The company is not affiliated with Tesla.
The Autopilot Buddy website promises to reduce Tesla's “nagging reminders” to drivers that they need to put their hands on the wheel in order to allow customers to enjoy autopilot.
Despite those promises, NHTSA found the product “is intended to circumvent motor vehicle safety and driver attentiveness”. “By preventing the safety of the system from warning to the driver”,
A Tesla spokesman said the company supports NHTSA's action to force the company to the end.
While fully self-driving cars are still in development, several carmakers including Tesla and General Motors Co have developed suites of technology that automatically keep cars in their lanes and follow the vehicle ahead at a safe distance.
The companies require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel, even if the cars are at times. In the case of the Tesla, the system of monitors.
Despite the Autopilot Buddy website's assertion that the hands-off warnings are an impediment to owners, it also maintains a disclaimer saying: “This is not meant to be a hands-off device, your hands must remain on the wheel as directed by Tesla's terms of 'Autosteer' user agreement. “
A spate of crashes involving Tesla has thrust the issue of semi-autonomous driving features into the news. The National Transportation Safety Board is looking at the March 23 accident in California in which the system did not detect the driver's hands on the wheel when it struck a highway.
Autopilot Buddy's website is the United States Dolder, Falco and Reese is registered to Carl Reese in California. A phone message and email to Reese asking for a comment were not immediately returned. – Bloomberg