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Germany asks Tesla to stop using “misleading” Autopilot branding

Tesla has come under scrutiny for it’s Autopilot system recently, which has been the cause of several incidents of late, including at least one fatal crash.

And while the company has always maintained its system should not be used without the driver keeping their hands on the wheel, it seems Germany isn’t convinced by the whole thing.

As Reuters reports, German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt has written to the car maker to request it stop using the term ‘Autopilot’ for its driver assistance system.

Related: What is Tesla Autopilot?

Dobrindt’s concern is that the word could be misinterpreted by Tesla owners, causing them to take their hands off the wheel when using Autopilot.

A spokeswoman for the ministry told Reuters: “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.”

Tesla Model S Review
The Tesla Model S

It follows another letter, sent by the ministry to Tesla owners earlier this month, advising them to be cautious when using the feature.

Tesla has responded to the move by calling attention to the fact the term ‘Autopilot’ has been used in the aerospace industry for decades to refer to systems that operate alongside a human driver.

Related: Who’s to blame when robot cars get it wrong?

A spokeswoman for the company said: “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.”

Tesla’s Autopilot has been the subject of criticism since a driver was killed in a collision while using the system in Florida earlier this year.

At the time, the firm released a statement, reiterating its warning that ‘Autopilot’ does not mean drivers should take their hands off the wheel, and calling attention to statistics: “This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated. Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles.”

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Let us know what you make of the latest Autopilot developments in the comments.

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