Rethinking the Term “Autopilot” in the Wake of Chinese Crash

A recent car crash in Beijing has caused Tesla to reconsider the use of the word “autopilot” for its Model S sedan. The driver, who had activated the autopilot feature at the time of the crash, complained that the company had  misled them about its capabilities. Following this complaint, the company removed references to the phrase “zidong jiashi,” or “self-driving,” from its website and replaced those references with a phrase that translates to “self-assisted driving.” Tesla’s China staff have also undergone training to ensure that salespersons keep both hands on the wheel while demonstrating the vehicle’s functions. A Tesla spokesperson stated that the autopilot function is not self-driving, but is rather designed to assist the driver. Overall, the incident in China highlights uncertainty regarding the automated features and their limitations.

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