Funnily enough, he's got a point.
Tesla's choice of naming its Level 2 self-driving system Autopilot might seem somewhat disingenuous for some, such as several owners (and their victims) who misused it and ended up causing a crash. But the truth of the matter is that Autopilot is not capable of full self-driving and owners would fully understand that if actually read the instructions Tesla provides. Last month, a German court ruled that Tesla is misleading customers about Autopilot's capabilities and has banned the automaker from advertising the system in the country where the Tesla Model 3 is very popular. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, not at all surprisingly, strongly disagrees.
Speaking to Automotive News about a range of topics, Musk's mood changed when the Autopilot controversy subject was brought up. Needless to say, he wasn't happy with Germany's decision and suggestions by critics the system's name should be changed and/or clarified.
"Absolutely not; that's ridiculous," he said. "The people who misuse Autopilot, it's not because they're new to it and don't understand it. The people who first use Autopilot are extremely paranoid about it. 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."
Reading the owner's manual chapter about Autopilot would be a good start. But why choose the Autopilot name in the first place if there was any possibility owners would misuse it?
Musk says the name is based on airplane autopilot technology where a pilot can also activate software that can manage the aircraft under certain conditions, but pilots must still be alert and immediately be ready to take over in an emergency. Tesla instructs drivers to do the same, meaning they should not be on their smartphones or taking naps, etc. Drivers can't be lazy and must remain alert.
"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 added. "That's the idiotic premise of being upset with the Autopilot name. Idiotic."