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PostHeaderIcon Tesla Model S Owner In China Gets Into Autopilot-Related Road Accident

As if all the reported crashes involving Tesla’s Autopilot system in the U.S. aren’t bad enough, the American electric car brand has admitted that one of its cars in China has gotten into an accident while in Autopilot mode, adding another layer of scrutiny to the controversial driving assist feature.

The owner of the car, 33-year old programmer Luo Zhen, spoke with Reuters about the incident, which happened when the Model S he was driving sideswiped a stopped car along the side of the road. According to Luo, Tesla’s sales staff was at fault for the incident because they overplayed the system’s functions by describing it with a Chinese phrase that translates to “self-driving.” On top of that, Luo added that when he was being demonstrated the system’s functions, the demonstrator took his hands off the steering wheel and then took his feet off the accelerator.

Reuters also reached out to four other owners of Tesla vehicles in other parts of China, and the owners corroborated Liu’s story that Tesla’s front-line sales staff described the the function in Chinese as “self-driving” and that demonstrators also took their hands off the wheel of the car while demonstrating the function. The news agency added that the term “zidong jiashi,” which literally translates to “self-driving” can be seen several times on Tesla’s Chinese portal.

Not surprisingly, a Tesla spokesperson disputed those claims, saying that the company has “never described Autopilot as an autonomous technology or a ’self-driving car,’ and any third-party descriptions to this effect are not accurate.” The automaker also put the blame on Liu for not following the guidelines laid out by the system despite Liu’s claims of being misinformed by the company’s sales staff.

Fortunately, the accident resulted in no injuries for all the parties involved. That said, don’t expect this issue to die down anytime soon, especially in a tightly controlled market like China that’s in the process of drafting its own policy regarding the technology.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


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