Self-Driving Lobbying Group Drops ‘Self-Driving' in New Name

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【Summary】The move is seen as a way to get away from the word self-driving and to distance itself from Tesla.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 07, 2022 4:30 PM PT
Self-Driving Lobbying Group Drops ‘Self-Driving' in New Name

In 2016, Wayo, Lyft, Ford, Uber, and Volvo got together to create a lobbying group in Washington, D.C. to lobby lawmakers to pass favorable legislation on autonomous vehicles. The lobbying group was called the Self-Driving Coalition For Safer Streets. The name, especially for the group's purposes, seems straightforward. But now, the lobbying group is changing its name to distance itself from the word "self-driving."

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The lobbying group is now called the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association (AVIA). Since its inception, the lobbying group has grown to include other companies like Aurora, Cruise, Motional, Zoox, Argo Ai, and Niro. With the current level of semi-autonomous vehicles on the market today, ditching self-driving is a smart move. The change also sees the organization move further away from Tesla, which is not a member, which still uses "self-driving" to describe its technology.

Tesla and other automakers have come under scrutiny recently for tacking on catchy, misleading names to their semi-autonomous technology systems. There are zero self-driving cars on the market today, but Tesla continues to sell a "Full Self-Driving" package on its vehicles. Instead of calling it what it is, an advanced driver-assist system that's in beta and needs a watchful driver to be attentive at all times, Tesla puts its system behind a marketing term.

AVIA doesn't specifically call out Tesla for its self-driving name in an announcement, but states that the new name aligns with its affiliates' "commitment to precision and consistency in how the industry, policymakers, journalists and the public talk about autonomous driving technology." The new name will also help consumers get a better understanding of what autonomous vehicles really are.

A Federal Guideline Is Needed

"The association recently called on all stakeholders to clearly distinguish between AVs and driver-assist to boost consumer trust and understanding. AVIA advocates for autonomous vehicles, which perform the entire driving task. AVs do not require human operators, not even to serve as a backup driver; the people or packages in the vehicle are just passengers or freight."

In addition to calling out automakers that continue to use misleading language to describe their semi-autonomous systems, critics have also started to critique the Society of Automotive Engineers' five definitions of autonomous vehicles. Critics claim that the standard is broad and dangerous.

One thing is for sure, the government and automakers need to do a better job of educating the public on what an autonomous vehicle is and where brands currently are on the totem pole. A federal guide on language that automakers can use will also be helpful, as automakers can come up with any kind of name, like Super Cruise and Traffic Jam Assist, for advanced safety features without explaining what they do.

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