MIT Study: Tesla Drivers Become Inattentive When Using ‘Autopilot’

Elon Musk CEO of Tesla

According to a recent study from MIT, many Tesla owners appear to become inattentive while using the vehicle’s Autopilot “Full Self-Driving” beta software.

TechCrunch reports that thousands of Tesla owners are expected to install the company’s latest “Full Self-Driving” Autopilot system in the comings weeks. Drivers will be able to have their Tesla drive using the company’s Autopilot system on public roads despite federal officials investigating multiple high-profile crashes related to the system.

Tesla Fiery Crash

Tesla Fiery Crash (NTSB)

Elon Musk shrugs

Elon Musk shrugs (Scott Olsen/Getty)

A recent study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests that the Full Self-Driving system — which is actually not fully autonomous and is more of an advanced driver assist system (ADAS) — may not be very safe. Researchers studied glance data from 290 human-initiated Autopilot disengagement epochs and found that drivers often become inattentive when using automated driving systems.

The study states: “Visual behavior patterns change before and after [Autopilot] disengagement. Before disengagement, drivers looked less on road and focused more on non-driving related areas compared to after the transition to manual driving. The higher proportion of off-road glances before disengagement to manual driving were not compensated by longer glances ahead.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims that not every Tesla owner that purchased the FSD system will have access to the beta version. Musk claims that Tesla uses telemetry data to track users’ personal driving metrics over a seven-day period to ensure that drivers are remaining attentive. The data could also be used to implement a safety rating page tracking the owner’s vehicle which could be linked to their insurance.

Breitbart News recently reported on the story of George Brian McGee, a Florida-based finance executive who was using the Autopilot system in his Tesla Model S when the vehicle collided with a parked Chevrolet Tahoe, killing a 22-year-old college student named Naibel Benavides.

McGee was driving home in his Tesla Model S. During the trip, McGee dropped his phone and bent down to pick it up. During the time that McGee was not looking at the road, neither he nor the vehicle’s Autopilot noticed that the road was ending and the car drove past a stop sign and flashing red light, resulting in the fatal crash.

Read more at TechCrunch here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.