The DMV thinks that these words are misleading.
Tesla has been creating some controversy because of its "Autopilot" cruise control system. Basically, the Autopilot system is a highly advanced adaptive cruise control that can also steer the vehicle. However, because of the way Tesla has marketed the system, consumers believe that they can let the car drive itself without paying attention. Consumer Reports has even called for the company to stop "misleading" consumers. Now, Tesla may have a more serious warning on its hands. Auto Guide reports that the California DMV has issued a warning.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has issued a cease and desist from using terms like “self-driving,” “automated,” or “auto-pilot” unless the cars can be operated without any human backup. Tesla's system is currently deemed as a level-two autonomous system, and California will only allow level three and above systems to be called "Autopilot." A Tesla spokesperson responded by saying that “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 really needs to keep an eye on these regulations because they could heavily impact its advertising. Autopilot is a cool name, but it is not worth getting into legal trouble over. Tesla has had a habit of creative names like "Ludicrous mode," but perhaps the company needs to become little more conventional with its names in order to avoid legal complications.