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Germany Tells Tesla To Not Advertise Autopilot Feature, Fears Drivers Will Become Less Attentive (fortune.com) 108

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has asked Tesla to stop advertising its electric vehicles as having an Autopilot function, as this might suggest drivers' attention is not needed, his ministry said on Sunday. Reuters reports: A spokeswoman for the ministry, confirming a report in the daily Bild am Sonntag (BamS), said the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had written to Tesla to make the request. "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," she said in a written response to a Reuters' query.
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Germany Tells Tesla To Not Advertise Autopilot Feature, Fears Drivers Will Become Less Attentive

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  • Change the name! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 16, 2016 @03:45PM (#53086693)

    Seriously Tesla, CHANGE THE GOD DAMN NAME. This is NOT an "auto-pilot" in the way that nearly everyone would think it is from watching movies and what not, this is just an advanced form of Cruise Control.
    Every bullcrap that comes out related to auto-pilot would've been a no issue if they didn't make people misunderstand what auto-pilot is just by the name. They expect people to actually READ the instructions on what it is when first activating it, when they should be aware that NOBODY reads the god damn manual, much less on-screen instructions! Otherwise customer support wouldn't be a job.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Germany is the second country where they had to change the way the feature was advertised, after the crash in China forced them to there as well.

      I still kinda want this feature, but only for slow stop/start traffic.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        China and Germany, two countries with one thing in common besides their love for David Hasselhoff. They are buth ruthless totalitarian dictatorships that crush the free spirits of their citizens into servitude towards industrial might.

        Why should we tolerate their capricious censorship and oppression? Let Tesla be free to be Tesla.

      • Germany is the second country where they had to change the way the feature was advertised, after the crash in China forced them to there as well.

        I still kinda want this feature, but only for slow stop/start traffic.

        Stop and start traffic might be the place where we could benefit the most from this tech in the near term, as well as smoothing the flow of heavy congestion on highways (sort of a cruise that follows the car in front of you).

        But as far as what you call it, it really doesn't matter. As some drivers get accustomed to its ability to control a car, and don't experience any adverse situations due to it, they will begin to take more and more risks with distracting tasks. Not different than what drivers do wit

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

      This is NOT an "auto-pilot" in the way

      Yeah tell me about it. It's far more advanced than that.

      Oh wait you also don't know how simple autopilot is in real life and apply your own pre-conception to the term?

      • by Plus1Entropy ( 4481723 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @06:55PM (#53087483)

        Oh wait you also don't know how simple autopilot is in real life and apply your own pre-conception to the term?

        But that's exactly the problem. Most people don't understand what an autopilot is, so when they hear the term they apply that exact pre-conception. I imagine that some portion of training new pilots involves a very specific explanation of what the auto-pilot is capable of, and, more importantly, what it isn't capable of. Until auto-pilot systems become ubiquitous in cars (which may be superseded by fully autonomous vehicles before that can happen), it doesn't make sense to include this kind of training for every new driver. Not to mention all the existing drivers who would have to go back to driving school to learn it.

        The much simpler solution is for Tesla to change the name. In this case, perception trumps reality for the sake of safety. Yes, we are pandering to the ignorant, but if we could stop them from being ignorant, there wouldn't be a problem in the first place.

        • by houghi ( 78078 )

          The Marketing companies select the names of cars, because of what they mean. They select the wording ads, so they give us certain feelings. They decide the colors to be used in ads, so specific emotions are being targeted, yet they had NO idea that the general public would think of when they said "auto-pilot"? I think THAT is the problem.

          They hide behind semantics like a 12 year old who holds the hand of his brother and yells "Stop hitting yourself."
          And no, naming it "I can't believe it is not an autopilot.

        • The much simpler solution is for Tesla to change the name.

          An even simpler solution is to not care in the first place either by you or the German government. That seems to fix the problem quite nicely when you do that.

        • Yet I'm contrary to the name change, but you made a very good point here :)
      • by jaa101 ( 627731 )

        Oh wait you also don't know how simple autopilot is in real life and apply your own pre-conception to the term?

        Aircraft autopilots are designed to allow pilots to take their hands off the controls. The Tesla "Autopilot" isn't. Game over. The Wikipedia article on Autopilots [wikipedia.org] opens with the sentence "An autopilot is a system used to control the trajectory of a vehicle without constant 'hands-on' control by a human operator being required."

        • Aircraft autopilots are designed to allow pilots to take their hands off the controls.

          They are not allowed to be any less attentive. The only reason they can take their hands off the controls is that if the vehicle drifts off course for a fraction of a second, that won't cause it to intersect another vehicle or an obstacle.

          The Tesla "Autopilot" isn't. Game over.

          The reason it is not game over or even squirrely shit is that you are not required to keep your hands on the controls of an airplane. You're required to operate both planes and cars in a safe manner, and what a safe manner is varies between the two because of physics.

          The Wikipedia article on Autopilots opens with the sentence "An autopilot is a system used to control the trajectory of a vehicle without constant 'hands-on' control by a human operator being required."

          They

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ArtemaOne ( 1300025 )
      Why aren't you raging about the airline industry calling their system "auto-pilot" when it is far less capable in terms of maneuvering in comparison to Tesla's?
      • Umm What? I'd say, for example, the 777 flight director autopilot is a tad more capable than Tesla's System.

        From

        https://www.rockwellcollins.co... [rockwellcollins.com] AFDS-770 Autopilot Flight Director System Put the proven standard autopilot flight director system of the Boeing 777 to work for you. The Rockwell Collins AFDS-770 incorporates technology advancements consistent with Boeingâ(TM)s state-of-the-art design objectives. So you can trust it fully digital, fail operational autopilot, flight director and fly

        • So one of them is complex. What is the least complex auto-pilot that still holds the name that is apparently some big problem?
          • Why aren't you raging about the airline industry calling their system "auto-pilot"

            Because it's not about the smallest system it's about that capabilities of the equipment the airline industry uses. Not a Piper Cub. But FYI, the Garmn FDS that fits in a Mooney can auto navigate the aircraft. The Tesla system can steer a car.

            • It's about the name, apparently. And if a system that does little more than keep your plane steered in one direction while keeping altitude can hold the name, then a system that can navigate lanes and avoid obstacles with great reliability should exceed that minimum standard for that name as well.
              • And if a system that does little more than keep your plane steered in one direction while keeping altitude can hold the name

                I think you missed it. Many of the autopilots systems even in small aircraft are fully capable of navigating the aircraft. Not just flying in a straight line and alt hold but maneuvering the aircraft from waypoint to waypoint. Modern flight director controlled autopilots fly the airplane not just keep the wings level. The 777 Rockwell autopilot is an example of a extremely capable autopilot system can take off the aircraft, fly it to its destination and LAND IT!

                • And you keep quoting only part and avoiding the question.
                  • No, apparently you are incapable of admitting when you are wrong.

                    Why aren't you raging about the airline industry calling their system "auto-pilot" when it is far less capable in terms of maneuvering in comparison to Tesla's?

                    You said the airline industry not a simple attitude hold system in a Cessna but the airline industry. My answers are directly on topic of what YOU said. Now move on you've lost this argument.

                • The 777 Rockwell autopilot is an example of a extremely capable autopilot system can take off the aircraft, fly it to its destination and LAND IT!

                  I was not aware of this...

        • The autopilot on my Cessna 302 had one function - it would hold altitude and heading. Just like a car's cruise control. Some are even dumber than that.

          Nonetheless, Tesla's marketing leaves a lot to be desired, as do people who try to "prove" how good it is on public roads by operating outside the supported manner.

      • Why did you even bring up the airline industry in the first place? Flying a plane requires a tad more instruction than getting a drivers license.

    • This is NOT an "auto-pilot" in the way that nearly everyone would think it is

      This definition that everyone uses for auto-pilot gave rise to the phase "on autopilot", as in "I'm running on autopilot". Which means to do a task without paying full attention. That's a far cry from fully autonomous. I'd be scared if someone was driving "on autopilot", so why should I expect an autopilot car to be any better?

      I don't think "nearly everyone" feels the same way about the definition of "autopilot" as you do.

      • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

        Did you even read what you wrote? The phrase "I'm on autopilot" means you HAVE a metaphorical autopilot which is doing the work, so you don't have to be paying attention. And it is exactly this common usage which is the problem, because when you have a Tesla autopilot you do need to pay full attention. You seem to think the phrase means you ARE an autopilot, and thus are not paying attention. You are probably the only one with that bad a misunderstanding of the phrase.

        • You seem to think the phrase means you ARE an autopilot, and thus are not paying attention

          Whether it's meant metaphorically or not, if you're "on autopilot" you, or your unconscious mind, IS the autopilot. Therefore, YOU in fact ARE an autopilot and are also not paying attention.

          But that's besides the point because, typically, this phrase is used to state that you should have been paying attention, because obviously, an autopilot system isn't as good as a fully aware human. Not to state that you don't have to be paying attention because you're on autopilot. For example, Instead of driving to [learnersdictionary.com]

  • by Steve1952 ( 651150 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @04:04PM (#53086767)
    May I suggest "Auto automatische Rücksitz Schwiegermutter", which as near as I can tell, translates into "Automobile backseat mother" (or mother in law). This should not result in driver over-confidence.
    • by bkmoore ( 1910118 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @04:30PM (#53086881)
      "Schwiegermutter" is mother in law. "automatischer Rücksitzfahrer"- would be a literal translation for automatic backseat driver. But I don't think it has the same colequal meaning as it does in english. "Besserwisser" (know-it-all) or something similar comes to mind as a better translation for "back seat driver".
      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        But I don't think it has the same colequal meaning as it does in english. "Besserwisser" (know-it-all) or something similar comes to mind as a better translation for "back seat driver".

        Knowing Germans I think the correct translation for "back seat driver" is Fußgänger (pedestrian). If you want to insult a German, talk shit about their car, driving or mother - in that order.

        • But I don't think it has the same colequal meaning as it does in english. "Besserwisser" (know-it-all) or something similar comes to mind as a better translation for "back seat driver".

          Knowing Germans I think the correct translation for "back seat driver" is Fußgänger (pedestrian). If you want to insult a German, talk shit about their car, driving or mother - in that order.

          Perhaps "automatische besonderen Bedürfnissen helfen" (automatic special needs assist) then!

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        "Rechts is frei" sind die letzeten Woerter des Beifahrers. (Sorry for the errors)
        This means 'No traffic from the right' are the last words from the person sitting next to the driver. (Traffic from the right has right of way).
        So I would go for "Automatishe beifahrende Swiegermutter"

  • by labnet ( 457441 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @08:23PM (#53087767)

    Having driven a Tesla S for a week, I found the autopilot dangerous and stopped using it.
    If your lighting is good, and you lane markings are good, it works OK; but other wise all you hear is a little bong and your on your own.

    The trouble with autopilot is you still need to 100% concentrate as it could give up at any moment or come across a condition it doesn't understand, but the feature lends you to taking 100% of your concentration off the task of driving.
    They should limit it to adaptive cruise control, e-braking, but not steering.

    • People have said these get used in snow storms in Norway! How the heck do they use them in snow if it needs lane markings?
  • Auto crash.

  • To be fair the misleading word "automobile" should be banned as well.

  • We don't have a general speed limit on German highways, the speed driven in the leftmost lane frequently exceeds 120mph by a lot, so the differential speed between cars in different lanes can be quite high. While you are driving 80mph (130kmph) in the middle lane a car will pass you at 130mph (210kmph).
    This only works because one of the rules on the Autobahn is that - except from a few circumstances - you are supposed NOT to overtake on the right. The lane on the right of you is always slower than your lane

    • what a crazy transit rule! This may cause more acidents than anything like "autopilot"!)
      • what a crazy transit rule! This may cause more acidents than anything like "autopilot"!)

        He forgot to mention that in Germany you can lose your license for failing to yield the passing lane on the autobahn.

        In theory, you can be ticketed for it here in the USA, but in practice that never happens because the cops don't give a shit about road safety. It's all revenue generation to them.

      • It seems my explanation made it appear a little more complicated than it is.
        While we're at it, let me quickly explain to you the offside rule in football: ...

  • Can be VW or Mercedes related to it, to preserve marketshare (avoiding a competitor to make some kind of ADs)? "Corporate America" on Germany, you know... /Thin foil hat mode OFF

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