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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on November 19th, 2015 | by James Ayre


Tesla Pulls Plug On Autopilot In Hong Kong Due To Regulator Demands

November 19th, 2015 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

Tesla Model S owners in Hong Kong recently woke up to find that the Autopilot functionality/option had been deactivated via a forced update — following a request from the relevant Hong Kong authorities that Tesla make such a change.

Department Of Transportation In Hong Kong Says That Tesla’s “Autopilot” Is Illegal

Thanks to “Lerxt” on the Tesla Motors Club forum for first revealing the news. Here are his/her comments:

The Hong Kong authorities have forced Tesla Hong Kong to remove the autopilot functionality of v7. This is from the Transport Department that removed the browser as they, with their 1866km of roads, know better than the rest of the world. Unelected officialdom.

So today Tesla did a software update on the sly, without the need for a confirmation, that turned off the autopilot and greyed out the icons. I expect the Communist government to do stupid things but I’m not particularly impressed with Tesla changing my software without my approval.

Most of the follow-up comments were approximately what you’d expect.

But “hiroshiy” did note that the situation in Japan was pretty similar:

Similar situations in Japan. Tesla still trying to get acceptance from the govt. However Tesla is doing very poor job conforming to local laws as @rcarpen22 mentioned. They had almost a year to negotiate the local govts. Everybody knows AP has some legal issues in some countries. Tesla intentionally ignored that and now pissed off its clients and govts.

And… following some further criticisms of Tesla coming from other owners, “ecarfan” made this noteworthy reply:

A lot of assumptions are being made in some of the recent posts in this thread.
Before AP was introduced, Tesla likely researched country laws about semi autonomous driving. Many countries probably do not have a law specifically addressing that issue. I don’t know what Hong Kong law is. In some cases the Tesla AP release may have caught the attention of local regulators and then they decided to restrict it. Maybe they will reverse that ruling in the future.

If governments decide to ban AP after Tesla releases it, you can’t blame Tesla for that. TSLA has no choice to comply if they want to keep doing business in that country. Tesla is a very small auto company and cannot ignore regulator rulings. In Japan I’m sure that Toyota has a great deal of influence. In comparison, Tesla will have no influence at all.

Pretty much my take on the matter. Hard to say what Tesla would have to do in order to exert/possess more influence than the local companies…. 
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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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