New York (AFP)

Two US senators on Wednesday called on the competition authority (FTC) to investigate Tesla, accused of false advertising about the autonomy of its vehicles, two days after the launch of investigations by the road safety agency.

"We urge you to promptly initiate an investigation into potentially deceptive and unfair practices in the advertising and marketing of Tesla vehicles equipped with driver assistance systems," write Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey, Democratic Senators from Connecticut and from Massachusetts.

They urge the body to "take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road", according to this letter addressed to the president of the FTC, Lina Khan, and of which AFP obtained a copy .

Mainly targeted by this letter, the driver assistance technologies "Autopilot" and "Full Self driving" (FSD) offered by the company led by Elon Musk.

They are accused of misleading motorists into the belief that vehicles can drive themselves almost alone.

The Autopilot software, which appeared in 2015, makes it possible in particular to adapt the speed of your vehicle to motorway traffic.

More recent, Full Self Driving technology, many of the technologies of which are still in trial version, can be used to enter the highway, change lanes, park, or stop at traffic lights.

This letter comes two days after the opening of an investigation by the American Highway Safety Agency (NHTSA) into eleven accidents that have occurred since January 2018, and during which the Autopilot or the cruise control (Traffic Aware Cruise Control) were enabled.

The name of the two technologies Autopilot and FSD are debated while no car from any manufacturer is technically able to offer motorists complete autonomy today.

Interior of a Tesla car in a showroom in New York, July 5, 2016 SPENCER PLATT GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP / Archives

Tesla is in category 2 on the autonomy scale set by the professional organization Society of Automotive Engineers, far from the fifth step, synonymous with complete autonomy.

However, during a conference at the beginning of the year, Elon Musk affirmed that complete autonomy would become "evident (...) in the year".

In 2015, the American billionaire said that a fully autonomous vehicle would be available within two years.

"The repeated statements of Tesla and Mr. Musk on the capacities of the vehicles (...) show a contempt deeply worrying for the safety of the road users", affirm the two senators in their letter.

"Their claims put Tesla drivers, as well as the public, at risk of injury or death."

© 2021 AFP

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