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article imageTesla removes 'autopilot' on Asian site — All in the translation

By Karen Graham     Aug 15, 2016 in Technology
The Internet was ablaze Monday morning with headlines that read, "Tesla removes 'autopilot' from China website after Beijing crash." But that is not entirely true, says Tesla.
Actually, Tesla did remove the word “Autopilot” from its Chinese-language website over the weekend after receiving complaints about how it markets the car's semi-autonomous driving system to potential owners in the country, just as Reuters announced on Monday.
The move by Tesla came after a 33-year-old driver crashed his Tesla earlier this month on a Beijing commuter highway. The car failed to notice a car parked on the left side of the highway, partially in the roadway. Both cars were damaged, but there were no injuries. The Tesla driver complained that the car company overplayed the autopilot function and was misleading buyers.
A Tesla spokeswoman emailed Reuters, saying, "At Tesla, we are continuously making improvements, including to translations. We’ve been in the process of addressing any discrepancies across languages for many weeks. Timing had nothing to do with current events or articles."
But the word "autopilot" was reinserted into the website on Monday after the change had been noticed and widely reported. Tesla says it did do some rewording of the text on the site, making the wording clearer in explaining that "autopilot" was a driver-assist system and not a self-driving system, says Phys.org.
This latest incident comes as Tesla Motors strives to move from being a California start-up to an international car company, says the Financial Times, and the company is blaming a “process of changing any discrepancies in translation” across its Asian websites for the error.
It seems that on the Chinese website, the word "autopilot" and the term "zidong jiashi," which translates to mean "self-driving," but also can mean "autopilot" is the problem. This was the word taken off the web page by late Sunday evening.
The ambiguous wording, along with the discovery that Tesla salespeople in China were driving without their hands on the wheel when demonstrating the technology to customers has come to light, forcing retraining of Tesla salespeople in China to re-emphasize that self-driving technology is an assist to the driver, and hands must remain on the steering wheel.
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