Tesla boss Elon Musk has slammed German authorities who last month banned the company from using the term “autopilot” when adverting its autonomous driving technology.
The outspoken boss of the electric-car start-up said it was “idiotic” for people to be upset with the autopilot name, because aircraft still require pilot control and it was never Tesla’s intention for drivers to rely solely on the technology.
In an exclusive interview with US industry journal Automotive News, Musk “bristled” at the idea the name needs to be clarified.
“Absolutely not, that's ridiculous,” Musk told Automotive News USA.
“The people who misuse Autopilot, it's not because they're new to it and don't understand it.”
Musk said some drivers would not pay attention to the warnings regardless of what the technology was labelled.
“The people who first use Autopilot are extremely paranoid about it,” Musk told Automotive News USA.
“It's not like, ‘If you just introduced a different name, I would have really treated it differently’. If something goes wrong with Autopilot, it's because someone is misusing it and using it directly contrary to how we've said it should be used,” he said.
Musk repeated earlier comments that compared the use of the term autopilot in the aviation industry and that is “does not replace pilots”.
“It’s not like some newbie who just got the car and, based on the name, thought they’d instantly trust the car to drive itself,” Musk told Automotive News USA. “That's the idiotic premise of being upset with the Autopilot name. Idiotic.”
Despite the pushback on the Autopilot name, Musk told the newspaper Tesla could have “full self-driving” technology available by the end of this year, however it is unclear if it will be rolled out to consumers.
Countless Tesla cars have been involved in serious crashes in recent years – with many drivers blaming Autopilot, or the car’s advanced safety systems not detecting obstacles.
There are numerous videos on social media showing Tesla drivers not paying attention to the road – such as reading a book or newspaper – when in traffic.
Rival car companies have previously expressed concern Tesla has launched driver assistance technology before it has been tested exhaustively and to standards used across the industry. Tesla says it has faith in its systems and that drivers should always be in control of the vehicle.
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