Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Edward Niedermeyer

The Only Thing on Autopilot at Tesla Is the Hype Machine

New self-driving technology is impressive, but Elon Musk's overselling of it could endanger lives.
Bumpy road ahead.

Bumpy road ahead.

Photographer: Robin van Lonkhuijsen/AFP/Getty Images

Just over a year ago, Tesla sent out a software update to its cars that made its "Autopilot" features available to customers, in what the company called a "public beta test." In the intervening 12 months, at least one customer died while the Tesla was in autopilot mode. Cars have crashed, regulators have cracked down, and the headlines proclaiming that "Self-Driving Cars Are Here" were replaced with Tesla's assurances that autopilot was nothing but a particularly advanced driver-assist system.

Given all this, one might assume that a chastened Tesla would take things more cautiously with its next iteration of autonomous technology. But in a launch event this week, Tesla introduced its Autopilot 2.0 hardware with the promise that all the cars it builds from now on will have hardware capable of "the highest levels of autonomy."