There's Still More Trouble Ahead For Tesla's Autopilot

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A US Senator now wants Tesla to rebrand Autopilot to avoid misuse.

Tesla's Autopilot has been in the news quite a lot recently, and not in a positive way. The feature has been tied to multiple high-profile crashes, some of which have resulted in fatalities, and earlier this month the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced yet another special investigation into a crash in which Autopilot is thought to have been a factor, bringing the tally up to 14.

Now, a US lawmaker is pushing for the company to rebrand its self-driving feature in the hopes of reducing customer indiscretion, Reuters reports; on Friday, US Senator Edward Markey said he believes that Autopilot has "an inherently misleading name" that invites misuse.

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Sen. Markey called for a "rebranding and remarketing of the system to reduce misuse," further asking that Tesla build "backup driver monitoring tools that will make sure no one falls asleep at the wheel." In response, Tesla issued a letter saying it had implemented measures to spur more driver engagement with the system, last year introducing red light and stop sign warnings to "minimize the potential risk" of running through stop signals.

The electric vehicle manufacturer went on to say that it had revised its steering wheel monitoring to further mitigate the chances of misuse, as in most cases, "a limp hand on the wheel from a sleepy driver will not work."

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US Sen. Markey is not the first to call on Tesla to change the name of its Autopilot feature, which is available on the Tesla Model S, Model X, and Model 3 EVs. In July, we reported that the Center for Auto Safety had asked the Federal Trade Commission to force Tesla to change the name, "before there were more deaths and injuries because of an over-reliance on non-autonomous technology."

Tesla has suggested in the past that its Autopilot system could soon support true fully autonomous driving, and that, the Center for Auto Safety fears, could cause customers to believe that it's safer and more capable than it actually is.

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