For as much as people hate on Tesla, it’s impossible to ignore that the company’s success has had a discernible impact on the auto industry at large. Tesla may have started out as a curiosity, but the resounding success of the Model S helped convince big time auto manufacturers to take electric vehicles more seriously.
Another area where Tesla has had an impact on the auto industry is in regards to self-driving car technology. While some of the features that came with the original incarnation of Tesla’s Autopilot suite were already available in some luxury cars, Tesla’s implementation of self-driving features was by far the broadest and most ambitious.
Over the past few weeks, Tesla’s Autopilot feature has gotten its fair share of negative press after a handful of Model S and Model X accidents. Most recently, a Model S driver in China crashed into a car that was semi-parked on a highway shoulder after the Tesla’s Autopilot software failed to spot the obstacle and adjust accordingly.
This spate of Tesla accidents has prompted some to criticize Tesla for overhyping the capabilities of its Autopilot software while not being upfront about the software’s limitations. What’s more, some have criticized the fact that Tesla employs the term ‘Autopilot’ in the first place. Indeed, many take the position that calling the feature Autopilot provides drivers with a false sense of security.
Tesla, however, isn’t the only auto company with a penchant for hyping up their proprietary self-driving technology. Recently, Mercedes ran into a bit of trouble after calling its E-Class vehicles “self-driving” in an advertisement. Much like Tesla, Mercedes was criticized for giving users the false sense that the car’s technology was sufficiently advanced as to be completely self-driving. In short order, Mercedes removed the ads from circulation.
Now comes word that Volvo is also playing fast and loose with the phrase “self driving.” Originally spotted by Electrek, Volvo is advertising its Volvo S90 as coming with “self-driving Pilot Assist.” And much like Tesla’s Autopilot moniker, the phrase “self-driving” as used by Volvo tends to imply that the car is more autonomous than it truly is.
By and large, it’s increasingly starting to look like auto manufacturers will continue to use terms like “Autopilot” and “self-driving” while shifting the burden of knowledge onto drivers.
Incidentally, Volvo’s own autonomous driving technology appears to be quite advanced. In addition to basic features such as adaptive cruise control, Volvo’s technology was designed to detect pedestrians and even cyclists who suddenly appear out of nowhere.