Germany bans Tesla from advertising Autopilot feature

Germany's Federal Motor Transport minister thinks the term is misleading

Germany has asked Tesla to stop advertising its 'Autopilot' feature, following a number of crashes involving the system.

In a letter to Tesla, Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) said the term 'Autopilot' could be misleading for customers, prompting them to not pay attention on the road.

Autopilot is Tesla's assisted driving feature, a semi-autonomous system that relies on cameras and sensors to drive the car on highways, but it also requires drivers' hands to be on the steering wheel, and drivers can manually intervene at any moment.

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag (BamS) reported that the letter to Tesla read: "In order to prevent misunderstanding and incorrect customers' expectations, we demand that the misleading term Autopilot is no longer used in advertising the system."

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The Federal Motor Transport Authority confirmed the existence of this letter, in an interview with Reuters, saying: "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 suggested the term Autopilot does not in any way suggest the driver should not be paying attention to the road, but should be used combined to the human driver's thoughtfulness.

A spokeswoman for Tesla told Reuters: "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".

One of the accidents involving a Tesla S car took place in Florida in May. The driver was using the Autopilot technology, and was said to be watching a Harry Potter movie when he crashed into a truck.

The safety of the feature has since become topic of debate and attention worldwide.

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