WASHINGTON -- Tesla Inc. defended the safety benefits of its advanced driver assistance system Autopilot and its Full Self-Driving capability but acknowledged they require "constant monitoring and attention of the driver."
Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey wrote Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Feb. 8 raising "significant concerns" about the EV maker's Autopilot and FSD systems which have prompted scrutiny from safety regulators.
In a previously unreported March 4 letter to the senators, Tesla's senior director, public policy and business development Rohan Patel, said the features enhance the ability of its customers "to drive safer than the average driver in the U.S."
Patel noted that both systems "require the constant monitoring and attention of the driver." Tesla vehicles are capable of performing "some but not all of the Dynamic Driving Tasks" that can be performed by human drivers, he added.
Tesla says on its website that Autopilot enables vehicles to steer, accelerate and brake automatically and "require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous."
Blumenthal and Markey said in a statement to Reuters the letter was "just more evasion and deflection from Tesla. Despite its troubling safety track record and deadly crashes, the company seemingly wants to carry on with business as usual."
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.