Tesla told by German government to drop 'Autopilot' name

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Tesla has been urged to stop the Autopilot name for its autonomous cars as it could be misleading customers.


The German government has told Tesla to refrain from using the term ‘Autopilot’ to describe its driving assistance system, as they worry that it suggests to drivers that they do not need to pay attention whilst behind the wheel.


Alexander Dobrindt, the minister, told Reuters that his office made the request “to no longer use the misleading term for the driver assistance system of the car.”


However, Tesla backed its use of the word, stating that it should be understood by analogy to aeroplanes.


A Tesla spokesperson said: “Just as in an aeroplane, when used properly, Autopilot reduces driver workload and provides an added layer of safety when compared to purely manual driving.”


The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) also wrote to owners of Tesla cars warning them of the potential ‘misleading’ system.


German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that the KBA letter to Tesla said: “In order to prevent misunderstanding and incorrect customers’ expectations, we demand that the misleading term Autopilot is no longer used in advertising the system.”


Autopilot is Tesla’s brand name for a group of features that are found in its Model S vehicles which provides varying levels of driving automation. The car’s features include braking to avoid collisions, change lanes when instructed, self-parking, managing speed and leave a bay parking space on command.


While the features help assist the driver with a high level of automation, the car is not completely self-driving. This has already caused accidents, including one serious incident in the US earlier this year where a Tesla Model S hit the side of a truck, after neither the software nor the car’s driver saw it crossing a junction.


The news comes only days after it was reported that new governmental interest from the Norwegian Motorcyclists’ Union when they asked Telsa if its autopilot feature had been properly tested with motorcycles. This is more negative news not only for an on-going disclosure controversy surrounding Tesla’s Autopilot, but also for the company’s innovation in and of itself.


Tesla had already planned to unveil a new model, but company boss Elon Musk delayed the announcement, as it ‘needs a few more days of refinement.’  

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