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Tesla refutes a question on "Autopilot" wording that might mislead drivers

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【Summary】In regard to a recent demand from Germany's government to remove the word “Autopilot” from a Tesla advertisement, the Silicon Valley company released a statement refuting the notion that its Autopilot system is misleading consumers.

Original Claire    Nov 13, 2016 4:25 PM PT
Tesla refutes a question on

In regarda to a recent demand from the German government to remove the word "Autopilot" from a Tesla advertisement, the Silicon Valley company released a statement refuting that it's Autopilot system is misleading consumers.

This two-sentence rebuttal reads as follows: "In response to Germany's Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA)'s suggestion that using the name ‘Autopilot' is misleading, we worked with a third-party to survey Tesla owners in Germany to better understand how they perceive Autopilot. 98% of customers surveyed said they understand that when using Autopilot, the driver is expected to maintain control of the vehicle at all times."

Last month, Germany's transportation ministry sent out a letter directly to Tesla drivers, saying that the "Autopilot" system on the Tesla Model S was a "considerable traffic hazard." The letter reminds owners that Autopilot is strictly a driver assistance feature and still requires the driver's full, undivided attention. That's how Tesla says it described the feature, but there are concerns that drivers aren't staying completely alert while using Autopilot.

The letter came after experts at Germany's Federal Highway Institute carried out a series of tests on the electric car. They concluded there are many aspects that need improvement. 

After several deadly crashes related to Tesla cars happened around the world, its Autopilot safety issue became a top concern. Germany is not the only party that questions the "Autopilot" lexix. Consumer Reports has also publicly advised Tesla to change the wording -- fearing it may be misleading. Also, California has legislation in the works concerning the use of autonomous terminology in advertising that may require Tesla to change the name as well.

Early in September, the US federal government announced a 15-point checklist regarding autonomous cars. One point specifically states that automakers should educate consumers to let them know a self-driving car's limitations and capabilities. 

This past October, seemingly to guard its public image, Tesla announced that all of its cars, including its upcoming Model 3, will be equipped with new hardware. This will include radar and cameras that will allow the vehicles to reach a Level 5 fully autonomous driving capability. They also released a video on their website, showing a Tesla car driving all the way from the highway to the Tesla headquarters by itself, and even self-parking without people sitting inside. 

The current "Autopilot," is just level 2 on the 0 - 5 scale of autonomy as defined by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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