Tesla got a slap on its knuckles recently from German transport authority for advertising the ‘autopilot’ feature that is available on its electric vehicles.
The order came from German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt who asked Tesla to stop advertising its electric vehicles as having an Autopilot function as this particular feature would inadvertently suggest that drivers are not required to pay attention when this feature is enabled. The written order was confirmed later by a spokeswoman for the ministry.
“It can be confirmed that a letter to Tesla exists with the request to no longer use the misleading term Autopilot for the driver assistance system of the car,” she said in a written response to a Reuters’ query.
Tesla on the other hand said that the term autopilot is being used for decades now in the aerospace industry and it is effectively a system operating in conjunction with a human driver. Further, Telsa said that it makes it clear to all its customers that ‘autopilot’ capability is just an assistance system that requires drivers to pay attention at all times.
“Just as in an airplane, when used properly, Autopilot reduces driver workload and provides an added layer of safety when compared to purely manual driving,” she said. On Friday the KBA – which reports to Dobrindt – wrote to owners of Tesla cars, warning them that their vehicles could not be operated without their constant attention and that under traffic regulations they must remain alert.
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.”
Tesla’s Autopilot has been the focus of intense scrutiny since a Tesla Model S driver was killed while using the technology in a May 7 collision with a truck in Florida.