TESLA has shot down newspaper claims that one of its cars broke Victorian road rules by driving itself across Melbourne.
The Herald Sun reported that Victorian Roads and Road Safety Minister Neil Donnellan had claimed a Tesla had driven across the city without any intervention from a driver.
However, in a statement refuting the story, Tesla says none of its cars sold here have switched on the ability to drive themselves.
“Tesla does not currently have any fully autonomous vehicles operating in the Australian market, or on any road in the world for that matter,” it said in a statement.
“The reporting from News Ltd is factually incorrect and based on misinformation.”
The electric carmaker said that while all of its vehicles were built with the hardware needed to drive autonomously, “Tesla has not yet introduced any software or features that make its vehicles self-driving”.
Tesla said the minister had since advised the carmaker that “he was never made aware of the brand of the self-driving vehicle that was brought to his attention”.
Tesla’s Autopilot system includes a number of driver assist technologies that blur the line between the driver being in control of the car, and the car being in control. Drivers must opt in to use the technology, and under Victorian law must keep a hand on the steering wheel at all times.
“It is designed as a hands-on experience to give drivers more confidence behind the wheel, increase their safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable by reducing the driver’s workload,” it said.
However, the system has fallen foul of Germany’s regulators, who pulled Tesla up after saying the name given to its technology was misleading.
The Federal Motor Transport Authority said the name suggested drivers did not need to be attentive behind the wheel while using the system.
The system is also believed to be linked to a small number of deaths overseas, which recently prompted Tesla to dramatically change the way its technology operated.
Even though Tesla is a member of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which collates monthly Australian new-car sales data, the carmaker does not disclose its numbers.
The story comes a week after Australia’s highest roads authority urged the states and territories to start thinking about how they will set the framework for self-driving cars on our roads – including changing road rules that assume a human, and not a computer, is steering the car.
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