Despite recently suggesting driver complacency is to blame for serious crashes involving Tesla's Autopilot feature, Elon Musk has long rejected additional safeguards that could help keep drivers' eyes on the road, the Wall Street Journal reports. Discussed before and after Tesla's Autopilot vehicles hit the market—particularly after a Florida man died in an Autopilot crash in 2016—options of adding a camera and infrared sensor to track eye movement and a steering wheel sensor to monitor hand placement were dismissed by executives over concerns about cost and ineffectiveness, the Journal reports, citing people familiar with the discussions. "It came down to cost, and Elon was confident we wouldn't need it," one source is quoted as saying, though Musk says ineffectiveness, not cost, was the deciding factor.
"WSJ fails to mention that Tesla is safest car on road, which would make article ridiculous," Musk tweets. He also stressed the company's safety record when commenting on Friday's crash of a Tesla whose Autopilot feature was engaged in Utah, per USA Today. Still, the Journal stresses that General Motors and Volkswagen delayed rollouts of hands-free driving systems using eye-tracking technology over safety concerns, while Musk plowed ahead with Autopilot safeguards that can be fooled. Per the Verge, drivers receive multiple warnings if they fail to move the steering wheel for extended periods before the Autopilot feature shuts off. However, investigators previously found the driver touched the wheel for just 25 seconds of a 37-minute ride before the aforementioned crash in 2016. (Read more Tesla stories.)