Germany’s transport ministry has asked Tesla to stop calling its semi-autonomous driving technology “Autopilot,” according to recent reports.
According to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, the Federal Motor Transport Authority in Germany sent Tesla a letter saying: “In order to prevent misunderstanding and incorrect customers’ expectations, we demand that the misleading term Autopilot is no longer used in advertising the system.” A spokeswoman for the ministry confirmed the report to Reuters, saying, “a letter to Tesla exists with the request to no longer use the misleading Autopilot for the driver assistance system of the car.”
The news comes as Tesla faces a barrage of criticism over its Autopilot technology. After the fatal crash of a Tesla Model S in May, Consumer Reports also called on Tesla to stop using the term “Autopilot.” Meanwhile, an internal report for Germany’s transport ministry called the semi-autonomous driving feature a “considerable traffic hazard.”
Tesla is defending its use of the term “Autopilot,” saying it has been used in the aerospace field for decades.
“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,” a Tesla spokeswoman told Reuters.
That doesn’t mean Tesla is completely against changing the way it portrays its semi-autonomous system. Earlier this summer, Tesla removed the term “self-driving” from its Chinese website for the Model S. The term was replaced with the phrase “self-assisted driving” shortly after reports of a Tesla crash in China surfaced. The driver involved in the crash blamed Tesla for implying the car was self-driving, rather than semi-autonomous. Tesla, however, said the timing of the language revision had nothing to do with recent events.