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More drama over Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ branding


Tesla Motors has been forced to delay its latest announcement due to an order from the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) to drop the ‘Autopilot’ brand name from its autonomous vehicles in Germany.

“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,” a KBA spokeswoman told Reuters.

This follows warnings the authority sent to German Tesla owners last week, reminding them to pay attention to the road while using Autopilot.

However, a Tesla spokeswoman has hit back with a statement that the Autopilot term, describing a system operating in conjunction with a human driver, “has been used in aerospace for decades” and the company has always made it clear to customers that the system requires drivers to pay attention and keep their hands on the wheel 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,” the statement said.

“We have great faith in our German customers and are not aware of any who have misunderstood the meaning, but would be happy to conduct a survey to assess this.”

Tesla has come under fire recently due to a number of crashes which occurred while the Autopilot system was engaged. The majority of these drivers did not have their hands on the wheel at the time of the crash.

In August this year, Tesla was forced to remove any mention of its vehicles being “self-driving” from its Chinese website and instructed salespeople to emphasise that the cars are not fully autonomous, after a crash in Beijing, as well as complaints from confused customers.

Tesla maintains that correct use of the Autopilot system will significantly reduce the number of crashes on roads.

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