Tesla Rethinks 'Autopilot' Definition in China After Beijing Crash

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Tesla has removed the word "autopilot" from its China website after a driver in Beijing who crashed while the mode was active complained that the company had misled them about its capability (via Reuters).

    The accident happened on a commuter highway when the car failed to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side and partially in the roadway, damaging both cars but causing no injuries.

    Tesla Model S all-electric five-door, luxury liftback (Image: Tesla Motors)

    It is the first incident of its kind in China, but follows a fatal crash in Florida earlier this year and highlights a lack of clarity surrounding how automated driving features work.

    References to autopilot and the term "zidong jiashi", which also translates as "self-driving", were taken off the company's web page for the Model S sedan by late Sunday, according to a comparison with an archived version of the page. The references have been replaced by a phrase that translates as 'self-assisted driving'.

    In an emailed statement to Reuters, a spokeswoman for the company said:
    In response to the crash, Tesla China staff have reportedly undergone training to re-emphasize that car salespeople must always keep two hands on the wheel when demonstrating the autopilot function.

    Other Tesla drivers interviewed by Reuters said China sales staff took their hands off the wheel while demonstrating the function. Under Chinese law, drivers are required to keep two hands on the wheel at all times.

    The spokeswoman for Tesla said that the system was not self-driving but merely assistive and that drivers were responsible for always maintaining control of the vehicle. On the Tesla U.S. website, autopilot in the Model S is described as allowing the car "to steer within a lane, change lanes with the simple tap of a turn signal, and manage speed by using active, traffic-aware cruise control".
    U.S. regulators have yet to issue written regulations for autonomous vehicles, but Apple - heavily rumored to be working on a car project - has already met with California DMV officials regarding self-driving car laws within the state.

    Multiple reports indicate that Apple is exploring the functionality with the possibility of including it in a later iteration of its vehicle project, which is said to be overseen by former longtime executive Bob Mansfield, who last served as Senior Vice President of Technologies at the company.

    Apple has reportedly recruited hundreds of engineers from the likes of Tesla, Ford, GM, and elsewhere to work on the so-called Apple Car, codenamed "Project Titan" internally, despite CEO Tim Cook's recent refusal to be drawn on the subject. The electric vehicle could be street-ready between 2019 and 2021 according to various reports, with R&D based in Sunnyvale, California.

    Article Link: Tesla Rethinks 'Autopilot' Definition in China After Beijing Crash
  2. fitshaced macrumors 68000


    Jul 2, 2011
    What a twit. Obviously there was no autopilot, there was no ejector seat button or roof mounted rocket.
  3. Mac Fly (film) macrumors 65816

    Mac Fly (film)

    Feb 12, 2006
    Remove the word self until it's out of beta. Assisted driving. Elon is to blame for this confusion. It it were Apple they would have been a lot more conservative when talking about it and would have been clear it wasn't self-driving. Elon allowed people to believe this as a marketing tool. It's backfiring now.
  4. Taipan macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    Wording aside, who buys a car like that without knowing what it can do and what it cannot?
  5. fitshaced macrumors 68000


    Jul 2, 2011
    The same people who back horses because of their catchy name.
  6. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    If you want to have autopilot, you have to go into the car's settings, read through a short paragraph explaining what it can and can't do, and then hit a button acknowledging you've read it and you want the feature enabled.

    If you don't know the limitations, it's because you don't care (you can obviously read or you wouldn't have been able to get through the menus in the first place.)

    Autopilot is a perfectly apt phrase. In a plane, autopilot takes over the mundane part of flying - cruising at altitude. In a car, autopilot takes over the mundane part of driving - cruising on the highway.
  7. soupcan macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2014
    Autopilot, from Wikipedia: An autopilot is a system used to control the trajectory of a vehicle without constant 'hands-on' control by a human operator being required. Autopilots do not replace a human operator, but assist them in controlling the vehicle [...]
    Autopilots do not replace a human operator.
    Autopilots do not replace a human operator.

    What part of this do people not understand? They give a warning every time they activate the system to stay alert at all times, and if you don't do that and subsequently crash because you thought "the system will not crash me" you're the one to blame.
  8. iZac macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2003
    The way people drive here, I'm genuinely surprised that this is the first incident.

    Actually having said that, since I'm sure the car adheres to strict save distances, it would basically be useless in China because if there is a gap of two meters in front of you, people will squeeze in front. Most owners probably turn it off because people literally won't get anywhere if they don't drive aggressively and dangerously.

    Angry pedestrian rant over :p
  9. fitshaced macrumors 68000


    Jul 2, 2011
    Cars have cruise control which is a perfectly ok term for cars. Planes have autopilot which allows pilots to remove their attention from keeping the plane at a certain altitude or direction. Very different things.
  10. Reason077 macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2007
    The term "autopilot" is not what's in question here.

    It's "zidong jiashi", which translates literally as "self driving".

    Tesla do not promote their cars as "self driving" in markets other than China.
  11. Three141 macrumors 6502


    Jan 1, 2016
    A comment on Macrumors when the first crash happened was the best suggestion I saw, change the name to 'driving assistant' many would expect 'auto-pilot' to mean self-driving car which it's not.
  12. 69Mustang macrumors 604


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    Words and phrases that are not synonyms: autopilot/autonomous driving and waterproof/water resistant. We constantly find people using the terms interchangeably; even on this forum. Part of the problem is simple ignorance, and a bigger problem is the way products are marketed. Companies that market these products aren't stupid. They know the impression they are trying to make. Unfortunately, people have proven very susceptible to marketing; both subliminal and intentional.

    Visually, they all show the cars with the occupant's hands off the wheel. In the fine print, they tell you the wheel should be touched every minute or so. To me that's akin to "images simulated" or "time shortened" disclaimers we used to seeing in phone and computer ads.

    We need to be more attentive and they need to be more overt about product capability. The consequence of continuing the status quo? Government intervention, and do we really want that?
  13. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    Its very interesting to see the progress companies like Tesla are making in this field. Clearly we have a long way to go before these types of cars could become mainstream and we have to expect accidents and problems along the way - I just hope there aren't too many more accidents, injuries or deaths.

    Personally, I'd be quite nervous allowing a car to drive itself, with me in it, on a public roadway.
  14. baryon macrumors 68040


    Oct 3, 2009
    Wait what? So if your car can drive itself without you in it, then how are you supposed to have both hands on the wheel and be responsible for what the car does? I thought completely autonomous vehicles aren't legal yet. What if it runs over someone while it's driving up to your front door, who's responsible?
  15. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Sep 23, 2014
    There is a lot of posts discussing the term "Autopilot".

    I think it is the inflatable pilot from the Airplane movies.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 15, 2016 ---
    I was thinking the same thing. While I think the tech is pretty cool, you know eventually something bad is going to happen. If anything, maybe some lowlife will deliberately get themselves hit for a easy payday.
  16. freepomme Suspended

    Oct 30, 2015
    Boston, MA
    And Apple is trying their hand at self driving cars. This is a disaster in the making. All you have to do is look at any of Apple's products and services.
  17. fischersd macrumors 601


    Oct 23, 2014
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    More likely, it'll be something terrible (kids doing chalk drawings in the driveway?) Their system doesn't avoid a stopped car at the side of the road - will it recognize kids huddled on the pavement?? *shudder* Anyone with kids should be taking their Tesla's in and having this feature disabled...hard disabled - don't even have the damn code in their car.

    As for the ignorance of some people - that's also part of our culture - we're so used to just clicking "Agree' to T's and C's without reading them, are we really surprised people are ignoring the explanations? The sales people need to ensure anyone purchasing these vehicles are very much aware of their limitations and potential hazards. Don't let them leave without being certain that they understand. Failing to do so will only result in more incidents.
  18. Zirel Suspended


    Jul 24, 2015
    Good thing that Tesla claimed the title "first" for self driving cars. Congratulations, Elon Munsk, you're everybody's hero!

    The car is clearly incompetent to do self driving in any occasion, even in the highway. It doesn't have neither the necessary hardware (sensors), or the necessary software.

    Now Google, Apple and others can take their time, perfect their systems, and release them when they are ready. And when they release, people will be educated that's just a machine, if it's goes bad, it's your fault for not being and the wheel. Some years later, people will be confident in the machines and start enjoying self driving cars in their plenitude.
  19. jamesnajera macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2003
  20. Sonmi451 Suspended

    Aug 28, 2014
  21. rmatthewware macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2009
    It doesn't matter what the technical definition of autopilot is. What matters is how people interpret it and whether it makes roads more dangerous. If people are wrongly interpreting its function, a change in name would seem appropriate.
  22. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    The car's decisions are second to yours. You can take over at any point. Used properly, autopilot changes it from being your mistake alone causes an accident to both you and autopilot make a mistake leading to an accident. If either notice the issue and correct course, the crash will be avoided.
  23. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    Regardless, I'd still be nervous not having 100% positive control over the vehicle. It would take getting used to and developing a trust in the technology to adapt to any and all situations.
  24. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    Completely autonomous vehicles aren't legal on public roads. Summon is limited to private property.

    Summon only drives at ~3 mph. It's capable of detecting anything at bumper level in any direction. Only a single collision has been reported with summon so far - when it hit something hanging off the back of a pickup truck. Tesla clearly states that the car only detects obstacles at bumper level - you are responsible for being aware of anything that's shorter than the bumper or hanging in the air. (The car does have a camera above the windshield, but it's only capable of seeing in 2D. It's meant for reading text off of signs - nothing else - in the current version.)

    Even infants are normally high enough off the ground for the bumper sensors to see them, if for whatever reason you've left your infant in the middle of your driveway.
  25. kd5jos macrumors 6502


    Oct 28, 2007
    Denver, CO
    So I guess they don't sell standard transmissions in China?

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