Regardless of your feelings on Tesla, the automaker's impact on the auto industry is undeniable, as the company's success has solid ground.
Despite debuting as an odd presence in the auto world, Tesla managed to focus its resources and prove that electric cars, such as the Model S, are a strong alternative to classic combustion cars.
One additional lane where Tesla took the lead was autonomous driving technology. Albeit some of the tricks found in the original installment of Tesla's Autopilot were already featured in luxury cars, the carmaker managed to push its self-driving car agenda and make the most out of it.
However, the car manufacturer has been under fire in the past several weeks, as Tesla's Autopilot feature was investigated by the NHTSA in the wake of a number of accidents involving the Model S and Model X vehicles.
The most recent incident took place in China, where a Model S crashed into a car that was semi-parked on a highway shoulder. The driver of the Model S, Luo Zhen, did not have his hands on the wheel at the time of the crash. Despite not taking any precautions, he claims that Tesla bears responsibility for the accident. Luo says that Tesla sales staff strongly pitched the autopilot system as "self-driving."
Critics of Tesla were quick to point out that the company relied too much on the Autopilot capabilities, without delivering a proper description of the software's limitations to its clients. Some even went as far as saying that Tesla should not use the term "Autopilot" altogether. The reasoning is that the general public associates the term with a false sense of security while also relying on the (false) fact that, when Autopilot is on, driver engagement is optional.
Other car builders seem to think that dubbing their driving-assistant software as "self-driving" is a good idea, as well.
Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz used the term "self-driving" to describe features of their E-Class vehicles in an advertisement. Consumer Reports complained about the deceiving nature of the claim, and Mercedes quickly stopped using the ads.
Volvo is the latest car builder that patched its ads with the term "self-driving."
As a report from Electrek first pointed out, Volvo has some new ads where its S90 model comes with the description "self-driving Pilot Assist." Taking a leaf out of Tesla's "how not to" book, the phrase leads Volvo customers into believing that the car sports more autonomy than it really does.
— Volvo Car USA (@VolvoCarUSA) August 11, 2016
Volvo's autonomous driving technology looks like it can keep up with the pack and even spearhead in some aspects. Aside from standard features such as adaptive cruise control, Volvo's technology was crafted so that both cyclists and careless pedestrians are detected when they suddenly jump in front of the car.
Russel Datz, Volvo's spokesman, contacted Electrek and explained the tweet as containing a phrasing "error."
"I'd like to set the record straight by saying Volvo's Pilot Assist is a Level 2 semi-autonomous drive feature," Datz points out.
Until Volvo, Tesla, and other car manufacturers provide a full-scale level 4 autonomous system fitting of the term "self-driving," we will just have to be patient. Until then, it's assisted driving.