Tesla Autopilot gets more criticism from Pete Buttigieg, this time on driver interaction

Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation for the United States, continued his skepticism over Tesla Autopilot on Tuesday after indicating there is a concern with the technology’s interaction with the driver.

Buttigieg has been critical of Tesla Autopilot in the past but has recognized the automaker as the leader in EVs, which has been a challenge for other prominent members of the government. However, Buttigieg’s criticism of Autopilot has been more related to the terminology.

In the past, he has stated that the naming of the driver assistance suite didn’t necessarily align with “common sense” because it still requires users to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel during operation.

In relation to a probe from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that was launched in late 2021, Tesla is under scrutiny for Autopilot-equipped vehicles and whether the cars adequately monitor driver attentiveness.

Buttigieg is now vocalizing concern regarding the interaction between Autopilot and the person in control of the vehicle. Comments made by the Transportation Secretary on Tuesday indicate there is a “real concern” between the relationship (via Reuters):

“There is a real concern that’s not limited to the technology itself but the interaction between the technology and the driver.”

Tesla has monitored driver behavior by using a cabin-facing camera that can track eye movements and other driver behaviors. This has helped keep people accountable when using the suite, and Tesla has even hinted that it will beef up these efforts through more behavior tracking.

Recently, we reported the automaker would track blink frequency and length, along with yawns in an attempt to make its driver monitoring systems more robust.

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