Germany Asks Tesla to Drop Its Autopilot Autonomous Driving System Branding

Germany has called for car maker Tesla to drop the ‘Autopilot’ branding on the systems its vehicles have that offer varying degrees of driving automation.

Reuters reported that German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt asked Tesla to stop using Autopilot in its advertising as it might suggest that the attention of drivers is not needed when the system in engaged.

“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 spokeswoman from Tesla told Reuters.

Self-driving cars

Tesla responded to the request by saying that it uses the term Autopilot to describe a system that works with the driver, much like autopilot systems in aircraft work with the pilots, rather than replace them.

“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 said.

The concerns of the German Transport Ministry over Tesla’s Autopilot system and branding likely stems from incidents of drivers acting irresponsibly when the system is engaged, with some posting videos of sitting in the back of a Tesla car while Autopilot handles the driving instead.

Tesla has always maintained that the driver still needs to pay attention to the road ahead, and after examples of drivers abusing the system, it put measures in place to curtail such behaviour.

The car company has had to be very aware on how its autonomous driving systems are viewed and adopted, particularly as it was recently lambasted by former partner Mobileye which accused Tesla of “pushing the envelope in terms of safety” in the way it designed the Autopilot feature.

But like it or not, driverless with the benefits and challenged they bring are not going away any time soon, especially with the likes of Jaguar Land Rover getting ready to test autonomous systems on British roads.

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Roland Moore-Colyer

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

View Comments

  • "Just as in an airplane, when used properly, Autopilot reduces driver workload ....". Should the term be 'Autodriver' ? Or are autonomous cars to be flying vehicles i.e. aircraft ?

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