Tesla Motors (TSLA)’s Tiny Chinese Word Change Clarifies Autopilot’s Purpose

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Tesla Motors Inc recently made some amendments in the translation of how it markets its Autopilot system in China. The change was made after an accident in Beijing earlier this month. Gary Tao – a Beijing-based spokesman – said the electric car maker changed the translation to list Autopilot as a driver-assistance system, instead of a self-driving system, on its website.

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Tesla has made the correction

The previous version of the page contained the term “zidong jiashi,” which translates to self-driving, and also made references to autopilot. Now, both terms are removed from the page. After the change, a phrase that translates into “self-assisted driving” was deployed.

In a talk with Reuters, the automaker said that their team of translators has been “addressing any discrepancies across languages for many weeks.” The EV firm indicated that the timing of the Chinese crash is just a mere coincidence. The firm said they are continuously making improvements, including to translations.

“We hope to clarify that it is a driving-assisting function and hope people can use it in a correct way,” Tao said. Since the launch of the feature last year, Tesla Motors Inc has always asked its users to use the autopilot feature with both hands on the steering wheel, the executive said.

Chinese regulators are making policies for autonomous driving, and have directed car makers not do any road test of self-driving cars in the meantime. Indigenous automakers including Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Baidu, and Chongqing Changan Automobile have requested the government to accelerate the process, and clear the way for the tech that could make roads more secure.

Driver says Autopilot is “Immature”

Earlier this month, Luo Zhen – a 32-year-old Beijing resident – sideswiped a parked car while using Autopilot without keeping his hands on the steering wheel. As a result, his Model S got a scratch, but fortunately, there were no injuries.

Three days after the incident, Luo said that during his commute to work on Aug.2, he took his eyes off the road and both hands off the steering wheel when his Model S sideswiped a Volkswagen Santana Vista. He said the sales manager demonstrated the autopilot feature – prior to purchasing the car – by taking both hands off the wheel during a test drive.

Luo told that the automaker did not clarify the risk, but kept leaving the impression that its tech is intelligent and fabulous. “It can easily mislead people to overuse the function, which is immature,” said Luo.  Tao – the Tesla spokesman – said the US-firm was not aware of the test drive taken. However, he did confirm the details related to the minor accident.

Tesla Motors Inc ’s Autopilot system has come under greater scrutiny since the May 7 crash in Florida, resulting in a death of the driver, Joshua Brown. The 40-year-old Ohio man did not have his hands on the steering wheel when the crash happened. The EV firm said it was the first known fatality in more than 130 million miles of use.

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Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both marketing and Finance side. He has work as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, playing PC games and cricket.


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