Tesla Drivers In Germany Receive Autopilot Warning Letter From Government


Not The Proper Way To Operate On Autopilot

This would be a good visualization of how not to operate your Tesla when Autopilot is engaged

The German government is now in the process of issuing warning letters to Tesla owners.

The letters are intended to warn Tesla owners of the limitations of Autopilot. According to Automotive News, the letters basically state that driver should pay attention at all times and that Autopilot is merely a driver assist feature and it’s not autonomous by any stretch of the definition.

Autopilot 8.0

Autopilot 8.0

Update:  Letter translated to English (via mobilegeeks) is attached below.

Hands should be kept on the wheel at all time and the driver should be (actually is required to be, by law) fully alert and attentive to his of her surroundings.

Tesla likely won’t be happy with the issuing of this letter, but we’ve seen time and time again that Autopilot has faults, so all Model S and X drivers, not just those in Germany, should really follow the guidelines laid out above.

For the record, Tesla says that Autopilot is an assistance system at this point in time and notes that drivers need to pay attention to the actions of the vehicle while in Autopilot mode.

Letter sent to Tesla owners (translated to English)

“Dear Mrs/Mr…,

According to current documents you are the holder of a vehicle of [brand], [model]. If the factory offered assistance system “Autopilot” is built in your car, and against the background of the noticeable discussion recently in the public to this assistance system which prompts you to point out the following:

The so-called “autopilot installed in your vehicle,” is a pure driver assistance system, not a highly automated vehicle, that can be operated without constant attention of the driver.

The use of this system in your vehicle at any time of its operation requires the constant and full attention of the user in terms of immediately ruling traffic to comply with the legislation on road transport (particularly road traffic regulations).

Please note also the behavior stated in the operating instructions of the manufacturer for this purpose. In particular this concerns there in the chapter of “Assistance” mentioning “limitations”, which describe the system boundaries, as well as the corresponding warnings.

The following operation in this context: “It is whether the driver to remain attentive to drive safely and to keep control of the vehicle at any time.”

If you’re no longer holders of the above vehicle, please announce the name and the address of the new owner or the whereabouts of the vehicle to the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA). Please use the E-mail address specified in the letter. [Alternative: add reply card]

Sincerely yours”


Source: Automotive News, MobileGeeks

Categories: Tesla

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29 Comments on "Tesla Drivers In Germany Receive Autopilot Warning Letter From Government"

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I actually DID read the Model S manual before my test drive in August. So nothing new here.

The news here is that someone actually did RTFM. 🙂

I think tesla will be very happy that the german government withdrew their initial assessment that autopilot is a danger rather than an improvement and does not take banning action, but instead warns users that they should use it as intended. Which is not a given, not for tesla nor for any other manufacturer because of peoples creativity, I remember those youtube videos of mercedes autopilot with a bottle tied to the steering wheel to trick it into thinking the driver is there, and then he sits in the back seat and takes the video. Tesla’s presence feature is not as easily fooled, but people always try to push the envelope. And its just the simple truth, its a very useful driver-assist feature, but it is not autonomous driving releasing the driver from responsiblity. It simply takes away the micromanaging of lane keeping and distance management in stop and go traffic or driving fast on the freeway, as well as the lane switching maneuver. Thus it allows the driver to be more focused on the macromanagement, being responsible of speeds matching the situation, being overall in charge of the trajectory and making adjustments or taking over where the autopilot is… Read more »

I remember as a teenager, setting the cruise control on the highway, so that my girlfriend and I could switch who was driving.

Certainly dumb and unsafe, and we couldn’t have done it without cruise control. But I don’t blame the cruse control for our actions being unsafe.

That’s how I feel about blaming the tool, when it is the “Tool” behind the wheel’s fault. Whether it is Mercedes, or Tesla, or the fault of my old Ford Mustang with cruise control.

They didn’t. German transport minister’ expert advisers reported to minister that Autopilot is basically unsafe and should be terminated. Minister, as politician, has take decision not to follow expert advise. So nothing changed. Minister may still take different decision if more accidents will follow even after this letter.

Autopilot by itself isn’t so big issue. Many other automakers also have traffic aware cruise control with lane keep assist, Tesla is not unique. The problem is reckless advertising in social media and by Tesla salesmen that Autopilot is something special and it may be OK to relax, get distracted, keep hands off wheel (and car did allowed to keep hands off wheel until recently unlike other automaker cars) and expect that Autopilot will brake and steer with 100.00% certainty. The result is fatalities. All this to pump and dump more shares.

“The result is fatalities. All this to pump and dump more shares.”

That is an exaggerated statement and a completely false statement.
The first statement is biased because there was a fatality but there was also people saved by the AP.
The second statement is completely false because the AP is simply there because Elon want to reduce fatalities by increasing automation in the car driving. His logic is that AP will reduce the number of fatalities per million kilometers driven. The debate on this is open but in no circumstances is it the intend to manipulate shares value but only to push for still better cars. Beside the AP is an option not an obligation, which would indeed be a completely different debate. Drivers drive the way the want with a steering wheel including in sometimes crazy ways, so there is no reason another driver should be bared from driving by using an electronic control system in a crazy way if he wants to. The freedoms of craziness should be equal not selective even if of course both can result in fatalities and get you in trouble with the law. The desired situation being obviously good drivers and attentive AP users.

Autopilot didn’t “cause” accidents yet. Nearly all accidents would have happened anyway, like the truck driving through a red light straight in front of a Tesla that drove way too fast. The man would have been dead anyway, looking at a Harri Potter film or not.

“The first statement is biased because there was a fatality but there was also people saved by the AP.”
There were 2 fatalities, one in China before that Tesla kept hidden from public and investors, probably Musk just didn’t wanted to get distracted from saving the world.

“Saved by the AP” is silly cultie excuse that doesn’t pass smell test. Go to IHHS:
and check driver death rates for 2011 (old by now, death statistics improved a lot since average 11 year clunker car age was made) model year cars of equivalent mass and price. Some of them don’t even have fatalities. Now keep in mind that Autopilot was released quite recently and is used mostly on highways in good driving conditions, while highways by statistics are several times safer than other roads/streets. And already 2 fatalities.

1) Car never allowed to keep hands off. There where always limits by which car would demand the hands return.

2) Tesla already boast above average incident free miles. (In incident per milions of miles metric) It IS safer then anything else on the roads. (Or to put it bluntly for every incident with Autopilot for given X, there will be greater number of incident in same X number of miles involving other brands)

3) German government citet Tesla own manual on how it should be done. Tesla claimed the right thing from the begining.

LOL, big-oil fool-cell shill and anti-Tesla troll zzzzzz once again desperately and lamely attacks Tesla with his repetitive FUD.

Its pretty obvious that as Tesla continues its rapid growth and break-out to be the dominant player in the long-range compelling BEV space that is well set up for rapid growth

zzzzz and all his paid shill friends will continue to hyperventilate all their anti-Tesla FUD with increasing regularity as they see all their lame efforts going for naught.

The fact is that Tesla is and will continue to relentlessly out-innovate the fossil fool hydrogencrowd and the laggard ICE OEMs and thus force them to compete or shrink their market share.

Which in the case of the Big Oil/fool cell crowd is basically still-born despite misguided and massive subsidies.

Likewise when it comes to Tesla AP, if used properly it is the best level 2 system now but will continue to improve rapidly both especially in software and soon in hardware terms and little old Tesla is once again out-innovating the giant laggards!

Maybe they backed off because German Automakers might soon be buying their autonomy from Tesla, using ‘Tesla Vision’ based technology?

Or because Tesla is now relying on the German (Bosch) supplied radar more than the Israeli (Mobileye) supplied cameras.

I’m glad that Tesla is moving to rely more on radars, which are active scanners, rather than video cameras, which are passive. Perhaps there is no easy way for the car to “see” painted lines on the road without using camera images (altho I would hope that a lidar scanner could), but certainly Autopilot should not be relying on camera images to see obstacles such as other vehicles on the road. Computer-driven optical object recognition using video images simply isn’t reliable enough to use where people’s lives depend on it.

This is basically the Germans telling drivers to “RTFM!!”.

Why wouldn’t Tesla want drivers to RTFM? I just don’t see the controversy.

The controversy was the German Government’s initial response to AutoPilot. Selective memory, much?

The form letter is to simply save face and CTA. No controversy with that.

Since Autopilot is currently intended to only meet NHTSA autonomous Level 2, the German government is exactly right is sending such a notice.

It is not a swipe at Tesla; it is merely an affirmation of what Tesla has said all along.

Another Euro point of view

It makes a lot of sense and IMO this letter should have come from Tesla many months ago when it was a feast of Youtube video’s of tesla’s with nobody at the wheel. Imagine a second if the first autopilot victims would have been a mother with her kids instead of a childless male, can’t imagine in what shape Tesla would have been now. The German authorities are doing the job Tesla should have done right from the start. Ego is not a business plan.

The same information was / is in every Tesla Vehicle, if you bothered to read it. Just tap the touchscreen and scroll…

Sending a physical letter with the exact same information is just political face saving after their initial scathing review of the system, and preventative legal gesture.

I think there is room for reasonable people to disagree here. (And in fact, I’ve argued both sides of the issue.) Yes, Tesla did make it clear in such things as warning screens the driver has to view when activating Autopilot/AutoSteer, and yes the driver has to “opt in” to using that. By default, it’s off. On the other hand, the noticeable lack of any corrective action by Tesla when it became obvious that many, many drivers were using AutoSteer in a manner which Tesla clearly did not intend, has left Tesla open to accusations of indifference, or worse. Let’s be honest here: Tesla has a conflict of interest. It wants to tout its groundbreaking deployment of AutoSteer, and it wants to use that to help sell cars. Emphasizing the dangers of inattentive driving while using AutoSteer undercuts that marketing goal. Tesla has a dis-incentive to repeat such warnings. Yet all the videos posted online, and comments posted to the Tesla Motors Club forum about people casually using AutoSteer whenever it will allow itself to be activated — even on busy city streets, far removed from AutoSteer’s intended use — make it very clear that the message that AutoSteer does… Read more »


I think the biggest issue here is with how “Autopilot” is marketed versus what it actually is.

With the name autopilot, most reasonable people would assume it is meant to be fully automated… as in Auto Pilot.

As far as reading the manual… give me a freaking break.

That is as lawyerly of a cop out as mutual fund companies sending the annual disclosure documents.

Did you read cover to cover the annual prospectus? Like 99% of others, you likely did not. If you did, I applaud you.

Do you read the entire agreement when you sign up or download the latest iOS update?

Question, how many people would still buy the “Autopilot” feature if it was not marked as “Autopilot” and sold as “Driver Assist” or some other name that more reasonably describes how they want you to use it.

Cool feature? Yes. Absolutely.

Safe? Not as safe as paying attention to the road yourself.

This comment is ridiculous. Are you seriously suggesting that a sane individual would walk into a car showroom or rental outlet, get into a Tesla, take it out onto the road, engage Ap, and then just get a book out or whatever, without *any* for-knowledge of how it works, what its limitations are or even any previous experience? If so, you must have an extremely low opinion of the average motorist! Reading a prospectus about a company’s performance is not the same sort of decision as trusting your *life* to a big and very expensive machine you have no prior experience of! The stupidity that we have all seen on the WWW and read about in the press regarding the mis-use of Ap has come about because users have come to rely on it far too much and have effectively been lulled into a *very* false sense of security over the use of Ap. A testament to Tesla’s engineers, yes, but reckless nonetheless. Personally, I can’t see any number of government letters making a scrap of difference to Ap use or anything else. Are they going to start writing to everyone to tell that they *really* shouldn’t stick their fingers… Read more »

Agree. It would have been easy for Tesla to at least restrict it to divided roads purely on GPS information and rename it to something more reasonable. Easy fix.

But who would have paid the hefty cost of the package? Money over safety – this is a clear sell out of moral responsibility.

Tesla did increased hands on checks and improved warnings, in recent Autopilot updates.

What Tesla did not was to subscribe to “15 seconds” policy.

Any comparison of Autopilot need to include incident statistics. For now nobody with access to those claim that Tesla Autopilot is safer then human driver. Hence its checks and warnings that need tweaking to improve human focus, and driving algorithms expansion to cover new corner cases.

NOT to make it safe, but to make it EVEN more safer then it already is.

This is precisely what Tesla do on its own.

A applaud the German government for doing this. Too bad that Tesla did not take such action itself, immediately following the appearance on YouTube and elsewhere of videos made by Tesla Model S drivers, showing themselves setting Autopilot/AutoSteer and then completely ignoring the road, talking to the camera, etc… and even, in one or two cases, intentionally bypassing Tesla’s safety features to cause the car to drive with no one in the driver’s seat!

It would have been better if the German government had issued this warning sooner, but I suppose this is as good as we can expect from a government agency. Here’s hoping that agencies in other countries swiftly follow suit.

Yes, adults should be held responsible for their own actions. But that doesn’t absolve people of doing the socially responsible thing — pointing it out when they see people performing actions which may pose a danger to others; in this case, a danger to others on the road, and any passengers in Tesla cars where the driver treats Autopilot/AutoSteer as if it’s capable of driving the car without oversight.

Our social contract demands that we warn others of dangers. People don’t always notice dangers for themselves.

Sending a letter is a waste of taxpayers money, coming from a minister who still promotes diesel technology, despite fraudulent pollution. Opel (GM) basically deactivates the catalyst function in Diesel engines when outside temperatures are below 17°C, Daimler does it at 10°C. Then the cars are polluting equal to or even more than VW diesels. And nothing is done to stop that, not even a warning letter. The warning what to do and what not to do when using autopilot feature in a Tesla vehicle is right there on the center screen to read and accept when its activated. German media is just constantly bashing Tesla, because they do not get advertising money from Tesla. Meanwhile Daimler continues to advertise “selfdriving cars” without receiving any criticism. Notably, that incident a few days ago where the Tesla on AP hit that bus was entirely the busdrivers fault, who suddenly went into the left lane where the Tesla was in the process of overtaking. Any car without autopilot would have been hit by the bus as well. I meen, there is a guard rail to the left and a bus to the right, what should AAP do? Teleport the car to safety… Read more »

“that incident a few days ago where the Tesla on AP hit that bus was entirely the busdrivers fault, who suddenly went into the left lane where the Tesla was in the process of overtaking”

It is Tesla claim without any evidence shown so far. Police report and witnesses say that the bus has passed a truck and was returning to first lane, and was 3/4 already in the first lane when Tesla crashed from behind.

I would like to see Ap changed such that you can’t take your hands (or at least one hand) off the wheel *at all* or it disengages (except, maybe, below 10mph or so for real traffic jam scenarios) and also, as Bladd suggests, make it available for use *only* on appropriate roads.

I would say this has nothing to do with whether or not Autopilot is a good idea. I would say this is only lobby of the German car makers to buy time. They want to scare people of using/buying Tesla’s and instead make them buy German products. The German government did the same at the time when Chademo was there and CCS still under development. The German government sent out letters to municipalities: Please do not buy Japanese chargers but wait and help our own companies. To summarize: This is market protectionism.