California DMV Issues Draft Regulation Demanding That Tesla Stop Using Terms “Autopilot,” “Self-Driving,” & “Automated” In Advertising

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A formal draft regulation demanding that Tesla stop using the terms “autopilot,” “self-driving,” and “automated” in the advertising of its vehicles (until these vehicles are able to drive completely autonomously without driver backup) has been issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), according to recent reports.

CleanTechnica director Zach Shahan using Autopilot in a Tesla Model X in California.

To put at another way, the California DMV draft regulations will only allow “self-driving” or “autopilot” in promotional materials for these vehicles once they possess Level 3, 4, or 5 self-driving capabilities. The California DMV currently rates the Tesla Autopilot as being a Level 2 system.

AutoGuide provides more: “On the current five-step scale that has been adopted by the federal government and the auto industry, level three vehicles are able to drive themselves under limited conditions without a human occupant paying attention and ready to intervene. A level five vehicle must be able to operate fully autonomously under the most severe conditions.”

A Tesla spokeswoman commented to the San Francisco Chronicle on the subject, stating: “Tesla is reviewing the draft regulations and will provide input to the DMV as appropriate. Autopilot makes driving safer and less stressful, and we have always been clear that it does not make a car autonomous any more than its namesake makes an aircraft autonomous.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk seemed a bit shocked earlier this year when there were criticisms of the term “Autopilot.” As he noted then, planes using “autopilot” still have pilots, and the pilots still have to pay attention. The idea that “autopilot” and “self-driving” are considered synonymous to many people (and maybe the California DMV) would be a bit humorous … if it wasn’t resulting in such a waste of Tesla’s and Elon’s time and resources.

Of course, it’s an open question how much this will matter once Tesla releases Autopilot 2.0 — which will utilize a new, more comprehensive hardware suite. Will Tesla’s Autopilot 2.0 be a Level 3 system?

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James Ayre

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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