Chinese EV maker warns terms like autonomous, self driving may mislead people
Chinese electric vehicle maker Li Auto has said the auto industry should limit the usage of terms like ‘autonomous’ and ‘self driving’ when describing vehicles as these mislead customers. Li Auto's CEO Li Xiang said that no automobile today is truly capable of that and thus the common usage of such terms should be avoided.
Xiang took to his WeChat account to express the concern, saying, “The terms ‘autonomous’ and ‘assistance’ are conflicting each other in describing one single status." He added that drivers are still ultimately responsible for their own safety even when using assisted-driving functions. His comment comes days after a fatal accident involving a Nio electric car which was being driven by a 31-year-old with navigation-on-pilot function of the vehicle activated. He was killed when his car rear-ended another on a highway. The accident is under investigation and the company is “actively partnering with relevant departments and submitting materials."
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Some people have blamed this on the way electric vehicles are advertised for their advanced driving technology and intelligent features, like describing driver-assistance functions as autonomous driving. Besides the Nio EV crash, there have been several other crashes involving electric vehicles in China raising consumer concerns over the safety of such vehicles.
Not just China but this issue has been under scrutiny in other parts of the world as well including US. The National Highway Traffic Safety and Administration (NHTSA) in US has opened a fresh probe into 11 car crashes that involved Tesla electric cars and their Autopilot systems.
Advanced driver-assistance systems help drivers park, stay in their lane or avoid objects using cameras, radar and other electronic sensors while a fully autonomous car can drive everywhere, under all conditions. However, for the latter to become a reality, there's still a ling road ahead. Xiang also urged media and industry bodies to adopt a unified Chinese nomenclature for assisted and autonomous driving technologies in place of the generally used Level 2 to 5 scale. He added that this would make things more "simple and clear. The hyperbole in marketing should be avoided".
(with inputs from Bloomberg)