U.S. Senator Says Tesla Should Change ‘Autopilot’ Name

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Sen. Ed Markey alleges Tesla drivers are confused by the name and capabilities of Autopilot.


February 4, 2020


The Tesla “Autopilot” name allegedly should be changed to clarify the technology isn’t fully autonomous and it requires a driver to stay fully engaged with the vehicle and its surroundings.

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), made the recommendation after a review of the Autopilot system, technology that allegedly offers assistance to a driver.

Multiple Tesla drivers have crashed while Autopilot was activated due to placing their faith in a name that allegedly may lull drivers into a false sense of security.

Tesla allegedly causes confusion by using an “inherently misleading name” that leads drivers to rely too much on the technology, yet the owner’s manuals instruct drivers to stay actively engaged because Autopilot is not fully autonomous.

Markey says he opened his own investigation after reports of drivers not paying attention to the roads while Autopilot was engaged. In addition, Markey says he learned how Tesla owners are getting around Autopilot safety alerts and how some owners have found ways to bypass automatic shut-off features.

Senator Markey says he found techniques online showing how a driver could take a nap while depending completely on Autopilot. Simply resting one hand at the six o’clock position on the steering wheel or wedging a water bottle into the steering wheel allegedly can bypass the safety alerts.

Companies have even sold devices to circumvent Tesla’s Autopilot safety warnings, as in the case of a device called Autopilot Buddy that was investigated and banned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2018.

The senator says he met with representatives from Tesla and determined Autopilot is a “flawed system.” Markey says he believes the dangers can be overcome, but Tesla must do more to protect the public.

“I urge Tesla to adopt my commonsense recommendations for fixing Autopilot, which include rebranding and remarketing the system to reduce misuse, as well as building backup driver monitoring tools that will make sure no one falls asleep at the wheel. Tesla can and must do more to guarantee the safety of its technology.” – Senator Markey

Tesla has previously come under fire from safety advocates because of the Autopilot name, including in 2018 when the Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. Both safety organizations claim Tesla misleads and deceives consumers in the way Autopilot is advertised.

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