Germany Forbids Tesla From Using Misleading Term ‘Autopilot’

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The German transportation authority told Tesla that it can no longer use the term “autopilot” when referring to its vehicle technology because it is a “misleading term,” according to reports.

The German Minister of Transport, Alexander Dobrindt, wrote a letter to Tesla arguing that the company is giving consumers the impression that the car can completely drive itself, according to Ars Technica.

“In order to prevent misunderstanding and incorrect customers’ expectations, we demand that the misleading term ‘autopilot’ is no longer used in advertising the system,” Dobrindt wrote in the letter.

It was also reported that the ministry wrote letters to owners of Tesla cars on Friday, warning them drivers must retain control over the vehicle even if autopilot mode is being deployed.

“Autopilot is a pure driver assistance program, and not a highly automated vehicle that can be operated without constant attention of the driver,” the letter read according to Ars Technica.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started investigating Tesla in June after it was reported that a driver was killed during an accident due to the autonomous function failing to detect a nearby vehicle.

The truck driver who crashed said that the operator of the “driverless” car was moving very fast and was watching Harry Potter on a TV screen.

“When drivers activate Autopilot, the acknowledgment box explains, among other things, that Autopilot ‘is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times,’ and that ‘you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle’ while using it,” according to an official Tesla blog post concerning the fatal crash.

The post uses the term “Autopilot” on a number of occasions.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, said that the death would not have occurred with the ongoing updates to the technology that the company is and has been developing.

Musk was criticized for not disclosing the crash soon enough, and the Securities and Exchange Commission announced an investigation in July to find out more about the failure to notify shareholders.

The past few months haven’t been so kind to Musk and his tech empire. Now, having to reframe a term for the autonomous capabilities is just another example, since it somewhat exemplifies Musk’s tendencies to be ambitious and count his chickens before they hatch.

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