Tesla to Release Autopilot Driving Assistant System, Consumer Group Urges DMV to Regulate Automaker

Tesla is about to release its Enhanced Autopilot driving assistance system. This prompted a consumer group to encourage the California Department of Motor Vehicles to act on its proposed regulations back in September to prevent the US automaker from using the name Autopilot.
The Consumer Watchdog is asking for the DMV to act on its proposed regulations that prohibit automakers from using the words auto-pilot or self driving for marketing as Tesla is set to release its Enhanced Autopilot system this year. Lee via Flickr

Tesla is about to release its Enhanced Autopilot driving assistance system. This prompted a consumer group to encourage the California Department of Motor Vehicles to act on its proposed regulations back in September to prevent the US automaker from using the name Autopilot.


The Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog has previously pointed out that Tesla should not use the word Autopilot in its marketing since it misleads consumers. It only allows drivers to be overly depended on the said technology. This is even though the Autopilot system is still limited. The group even cited the death of a Tesla driver who was using the Autopilot when his car crashed back in May, according to the Los Angeles Times.


In a recent letter to DMV’s Director Jean Shiomoto, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Policy Director John M. Simpson said that the agency should “enact a regulation protecting consumers from misleading advertising that leaves the dangerous – and sometimes fatal – impression that a car is more capable of driving itself than is actually the case”. Though Tesla refuted that “statistics show that semi-autonomous driving is safer than driving with no robotic assist”.


There is also a concern for the implementation of the regulation. Simpson mentioned that it will take at least a year before the regulations package take effect. Amidst the safety risk that such marketing could pose, the consumer group is asking DMV to immediately address it. This move will be “potentially life-saving”.


Despite the proposed regulation that would ban automakers from using the words auto-pilot and self-driving, this does not seem to stop Tesla from marketing its upcoming Enhanced Autopilot. According to Electrek, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that the first version of this new feature “is expected to come with version 8.1 of Tesla’s operating system through an over-the-air update in about three weeks”.


Its new capabilities include matching speed to traffic conditions, keeping within a lane, automatically changing lanes without requiring driver input, transition from one freeway to another, exiting the freeway when your destination is near, self-parking when near a parking spot and summoning to and from your garage. The release of the Enhanced Autopilot of Tesla is just a step towards its goal of achieving full level 5 autonomous driving. This is not expected until the end of next 2017. It’s also a part of Musk’s other ambitious visions like the Mars colonization.


Tesla is not the only one working on full autonomous driving, Ford and Google are also among other automakers interested in this innovation.

Tags : Tesla, Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, Autopilot, California Department of Motor Vehicles, DMV, Consumer Watchdog, Jean Shiomoto, John M. Simpson, Enhanced Autopilot, ford, Google, Mars, Mars colonization