Autopilot Buddy is $ 199 "Tesla Autopilot nag reduction device." In short, it is a magnetic ring that clicks on the handlebar of a Tesla and beats the system that checks whether the hands of a driver are on the steering wheel. It works by adding a little pressure and torque to the wheel to deceive the car and bypass a safety function. Today NHTSA formally stopped the company behind Autopilot Buddy and gave a consumer advice in which the product is considered unsafe.
NHTSA says in the advisory report: "By preventing the safety system from warning the driver to get his hands on the wheel again, this product switches off important safety and can put customers and other road users at risk." Aftermarket devices such as Autopilot Buddy are regulated by NHTSA. The company has until June 29 to respond and certify to NHTSA that all US marketing, sales and distribution of the Autopilot Buddy has ended. In a statement to Autoblog, Tesla simply said: "We support NHTSA's action on this product."
At the moment, the Autopilot Buddy website does not take orders within the United States, although international orders are still open. Together with the order couplings, the site is full of disclaimers such as "Autopilot Buddy is only intended for track use", "Autopilot Budy is not a safety device" and – most notably – "Switching off the most important safety function of a car is dangerous and unwise . " The device is intended to restore the Autosteer function, an Autopilot subfunction that has been limited by Tesla since it was originally released.
Avoiding or disabling safety devices is nothing new, but there is a world of difference between not wearing a seat belt and using a device that means you can keep your hands off the wheel for a longer period of time. Systems such as Autopilot still require a driver to be fully informed and involved, and – regardless of how many warnings or disclaimers the Autopilot Buddy can provide – devices such as these encourage dangerous behavior.