"We are essentially experiments in public roads."
A former Tesla employee and whistleblower has come forward, telling the BBC in a damning interview that the car company's controversial Autopilot system is not safe for use on public roads, arguing that other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians could be put at risk.
"I don't think the hardware is ready and the software is ready," former Tesla worker Lukasz Krupski told the broadcaster. "It affects all of us because we are essentially experiments in [sic] public roads. So even if you don't have a Tesla, your children still walk in the footpath."
Earlier this year, Krupski leaked data, including thousands of customer complaints regarding Tesla's Autopilot, to German newspaper Handelsblatt. At the time, Krupski argued that Tesla hadn't done its due diligence and failed to meet autonomous driving safety requirements.
Krupski's comments highlight a heated debate regarding the use of advanced driver assistance features like Autopilot on public roads.
Tesla has repeatedly come under fire for how it markets its advanced driver features to the public, something that could give an unwitting public a false sense of security while behind the wheel. Despite it being called "Autopilot," drivers are still required to pay attention and be able to take over the wheel at any time.
The feature has also been involved in numerous crashes and near accidents, which has drawn the scrutiny of federal prosecutors.Tesla CEO Elon Musk, however, is unperturbed. Over the weekend, he argued in a tweet that "Tesla has by far the best real-world AI."
But does "the best" amount to safe? Krupski's whistleblower complaints — while unwelcomed by Musk and his supporters — seem to match up with third-party reports on these crashes and other troubling incidents linked with Tesla's Autopilot.
The bigger question is how much longer this state of affairs will persist. In the rush to bring so-called "self-driving" features to the market, it seems we are leaving safety and ethical concerns behind.
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