Tesla’s driver assistance system has come under fire after several fatal accidents. Elon Musk considers the controversy surrounding the name “Autopilot” to be “idiotic”.
Tesla boss Elon Musk has expressed his criticism of the “Autopilot” driver assistance program with clear words. The term is by no means misleading, said the 49-year-old star entrepreneur in the specialist journal “Automobile News” in an interview published on Monday. The excitement about it is “idiotic”.
The reason for the excitement is a handful of accidents in which Tesla cars hit barriers and semi-trailers at high speed. These incidents prompted the National Transportation Safety Board not only to scold Tesla, but also to speak harshly to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asking the organization to regulate semi-automated driving aids.
After the accidents, Tesla was accused of using the name to suggest that it was a technology for autonomous driving and not just an assistance program. Musk sees it differently.
Musk blames drivers for accidents
The objections that the name was imprecise, he described in the interview as “ridiculous”. If something goes wrong with the program, “it is because someone is not using it correctly”. According to the Tesla boss, nobody would assume that the car would drive itself because of the name.
Musk emphasized that the Autopilot always reminds drivers to pay full attention to the road during operation, to always have their hands on the steering wheel and to be ready to take control at all times. Given the clear rules, Musk is not convinced that a name change would make a difference.
Legal defeat in Germany
“The people who misuse Autopilot don’t do that because they don’t understand,” Musk told the paper. “The people who use Autopilot for the first time are extremely paranoid.” By changing the name, users would not change the way they use the system, according to the CEO. “If something goes wrong with autopilot, it’s because someone is misusing it, contrary to our guidance on how to use it.”
In Germany, however, Tesla has only recently suffered a legal setback: The Munich District Court I banned the US company from advertising its vehicles with the term “Autopilot” in mid-July, as it was considered misleading.