German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt has told Tesla to stop advertising its electric vehicles offering an Autopilot function as this might suggest that the attention of the driver was not required, his ministry said on Sunday.
According a spokeswoman for the ministry, who confirmed a report in the daily Bild am Sonntag (BamS), the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had written to Tesla to make the request.
Tesla's Autopilot had come under intense scrutiny after a Tesla Model S driver was killed while using the technology.
''It can be confirmed that a letter to Tesla exists with the request to no longer use the misleading term Autopilot for the driver assistance system of the car,'' she said in a written response to a query from Reuters.
A Tesla spokeswoman pointed out that the Autopilot term, had been used in aerospace for decades. The term described system which operated in conjunction with a human driver. She further said Tesla had always made it clear to customers that the assistance system required drivers to be attentive at all times.
''Just as in an airplane, when used properly, Autopilot reduces driver workload and provides an added layer of safety when compared to purely manual driving,'' she said.
The autopilot function has been in the news for all the wrong reasons after a Model S, in May, met with an accident killing the driver (See: Florida death puts big question-mark on Tesla autopilot). In September Tesla sought to address criticism about Autopilot by releasing an over-the-air update to improve its 3D model of the car's surroundings. The update included additional warnings to Autopilot if drivers were not paying attention, and if they failed to respond, the cruise control was switched off.
In an added blow to the company, following the accident, Tesla's former sensor supplier Mobileye, in September, accused Tesla of ''pushing the envelope in terms of safety'' (Mobileye tried to block development of vision capability for cars: Tesla).