Germany warns Tesla drivers on use of Autopilot feature

While dubbed "Autopilot," the well-known feature in Tesla's cars is far from a fully automated driving system and more of a driver assistance tool. But a fatal car accident earlier this year involving a Tesla driver with the feature activated has triggered criticism and investigations, and now enough concern has been raised that Germany is issuing warnings on the use of Autopilot.

Last week the country's transportation ministry issued a statement calling the Model S's Autopilot a "considerable traffic hazard." Now the German authorities have issued a written letter to Tesla drivers, advising them to be cautious when using the car's feature. It goes on to clarify that Autopilot does not provide autonomous driving, and that drivers must remain alert at all times behind the wheel.

German driving laws already require people to always be in control of their vehicles. Meanwhile, Tesla notes that Autopilot is still in beta, and that when officially describing the feature, it notes that drivers must remain attentive.

This concern over how drivers interpret these assistance systems and whether they are remaining alert behind the wheel echoes similar incidents in the US. Consumer Reports previously wrote that Tesla should change the name of the feature to something other than Autopilot due to public confusion, while Mercedes pulled a TV commercial for its new E-class over misleading claims it was "self-driving."

SOURCE Reuters