Sometimes when you’re an innovator, you bear the brunt of the negative feedback as you “work out the kinks.” If anyone can attest to this, it’s Tesla, who has been at the forefront of autonomous vehicle tech and, also, the recipient of a fair amount of criticism.
Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving platform, Autopilot, may mostly suffer from a bad name. The term Autopilot perhaps inspires confidence from drivers that everything is under control and they don’t need to do a thing – perhaps willful ignorance in many cases.
There have been several accidents, even fatal ones, where black box evidence has later uncovered that the drivers were using Autopilot in ways it was not intended for. The system is set up to alert users when their hands have been off the wheel for a certain period, even sometimes decelerating if the user does not comply.
But for some Tesla users, occasionally checking in with their steering wheel is far too much to ask.
Autopilot Buddy is a product created by, I can only imagine, a team of completely irresponsible engineers at a company called Dolder, Falco and Reese Partners, LLC.
The system is designed to be attached to a Tesla steering wheel and, when Autopilot is engaged, weights and magnets trick the Autopilot into thinking a driver’s hand is on the wheel. This puts an end to those pesky warning alerts and possibly, also, puts an end to your life.
The NHTSA is not amused and has recently issued a cease and desist, calling on the company to stop marketing and selling the dangerous product.
The company looks to be shifting their focus to an international market, and is still actively selling the products to non-US customers only. It’s also optimistically keeping a wait list for Americans, saying they will ship you the Buddy once they “resume domestic” distribution.
But hey, let’s not be too hard on the people at Autopilot Buddy… in their defense, they do suggest that this product is not intended for “street use” and should only be engaged on a test track.