California regulators, it turns out, take a dim view of Tesla Motors’ Autopilot — not the self-steering system itself, but the name.
In draft regulations released late Friday, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said car companies should not use the terms “self-driving,” “automated” or “auto-pilot” in advertising unless their cars are capable of driving themselves without human passengers paying attention.
For Palo Alto’s Tesla, that could pose a problem.
The company’s Autopilot system, available in both the Model S electric sedan and Model X SUV, can steer on its own and change lanes. But the human driver is supposed to remain ready to take the wheel whenever needed.
The fatal crash in May of a Tesla driver who appeared to be watching a Harry Potter video while Autopilot drove his car made the need for that requirement clear.