Last week we covered a Tesla Model S crash in China, where yet again the owner blamed Tesla’s Autopilot for the incident. He also apparently didn’t bother to have his hands on the wheel of the car when the fender bender occurred, and somehow still thinks he isn’t at fault.
In his interview with Reuters, the driver, Luo Zhen, “said he was looking at his phone or the in-car navigation at the time of the accident, only looking up every several seconds.” This is definitely distracted driving, and could very well have been a factor in the fatal Joshua D. Brown crash back in May.
Regardless of this, Luo is saying that Tesla uses “this immature technology as a sales and promotion tactic... but they don’t take responsibility for the safety of the function.”
He may have a point there. For the Chinese market, the Autopilot function is termed “自动驾驶,” which translates to “self-driving.” Perhaps the issue here is in the translation?
That’s not what Tesla claims the function is for, telling Reuters, “We have never described autopilot as an autonomous technology or a ‘self-driving car,’ and any third-party descriptions to this effect are not accurate.”
Still, if Tesla says you shouldn’t take your hands off the wheel, and Chinese law says you shouldn’t take your hands off the wheel, then don’t take your hands off of the damn steering wheel—especially if it’s to use your phone when you’re driving.