Tesla Autopilot gets stone cast in its direction by Pete Buttigieg

(Credit: Tesla)

Tesla Autopilot had stones cast in its direction by Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, who said the naming of the driver assistance suite didn’t align with “common sense.”

In an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday, Buttigieg said Autopilot shouldn’t be called what it is because it still requires users to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheels during operation:

“I wouldn’t call something ‘Autopilot’ if the manual explicitly says that you have to have your hands on the wheel and the eyes on the road all the time.”

The language, Buttigieg added, is not part of the ongoing investigations into accidents involving Teslas, but “at a common sense level,” the naming is a concern.

Tesla Autopilot and Full Self-Driving both have been some of the more robust systems on the market for some time, but the naming of both has caused some controversy. The latter, despite not being a fully autonomous system, is still called Full Self-Driving, and although it may be that one day, it currently is defined as a Level 2 SAE system by Tesla. Tesla has never said these systems are capable of fully autonomous driving.


The controversy comes from the terminology and naming of the suites, which, in September, became the primary part of a lawsuit aimed toward Tesla and Elon Musk, who were sued by Briggs Matsko for deceptively advertising the technology.

“Tesla has yet to produce anything even remotely approaching a fully self-driving car,” Matsko claimed in the suit.

Last month, Tesla issued a recall of its Full Self-Driving Beta software, stating that it would pause the rollout to all who have opted-in “but have not yet received a software version containing FSD Beta.”

Tesla said in a release that some of the operating limitations could “potentially infringe upon local traffic laws or customs” in rare circumstances.

I’d love to hear from you! If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, please email me at joey@teslarati.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @KlenderJoey, or if you have news tips, you can email us at tips@teslarati.com.

Joey Klender: Joey has been a journalist covering electric mobility at TESLARATI since August 2019. In his time at TESLARATI, Joey has broken several big stories, including the first images of the Tesla Model S Plaid, the imminent release of the 4680 Model Y through EPA certification, and several expansions to the Lucid AMP-1 factory in Arizona, to name a few. His stories have been featured in several publications, including Yahoo! Finance, Fox News, CNET, and Seeking Alpha. In his spare time, Joey is playing golf, watching MMA, or cheering on any of his favorite sports teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, Miami Heat, Washington Capitals, and Penn State Nittany Lions. You can get in touch with joey at joey@teslarati.com. He is also on Twitter @KlenderJoey.
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