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August 15, 2016

Tesla deletes ‘autopilot’ and term for ‘self driving’ from Chinese website

Tesla reportedly has removed the word 'autopilot' and a Chinese term for 'self-driving' from its China website after a driver in Beijing who crashed in 'autopilot' mode complained that the car maker overplayed the function's capability and misled buyers.

Tesla reportedly has removed the word ‘autopilot’ and a Chinese term for ‘self-driving’ from its China website after a driver in Beijing who crashed in ‘autopilot’ mode complained that the car maker overplayed the function’s capability and misled buyers.

According to Reuters, the Tesla driver crashed earlier this month while on a Beijing commuter highway after the car failed to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side, partially in the roadway, damaging both cars but causing no injuries. It was the first known such crash in China although it followed a fatal accident in Florida earlier this year that put pressure on the auto executives and regulators to tighten rules for automated driving.

“At Tesla we are continuously making improvements, including to translations,” a Tesla spokeswoman said in a statement cited by Reuters. “We’ve been in the process of addressing any discrepancies across languages for many weeks. Timing had nothing to do with current events or articles.”

References to autopilot and the term ‘zidong jiashi’, which most literally translates as self-driving although also means autopilot, were taken off the webpage for the Model S sedan by late Sunday, according to a comparison with an archived version of the page, Reuters said. Both terms had previously appeared several times on the site.

Instead a phrase that translates as ‘self-assisted driving’ is now used.

Tesla China staff have additionally undergone training in response to the 2 August crash to re-emphasise that employees must always keep two hands on the wheel when demonstrating the autopilot function, Reuters added, citing an unnamed Tesla employee who was not authorised to speak to the media.

Reuters reported last week that Tesla said it downloaded data from the Beijing car and confirmed it was in autopilot mode at the time of the crash although the driver was not detected to have his hands on the wheel.

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