California lawmakers just passed a bill that could force Tesla to stop calling its beta software ‘Full Self Driving’ in the state — now, it’s up to Gov. Newsom to sign it into law

  • Lawmakers passed a bill that could force Tesla to stop using the term “Full Self-Driving” in California.
  • The bill requires a signature from the governor and targets marketing around driver assist programs.
  • California DMV has accused Tesla of using misleading marketing practices in advertising FSD.

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Tesla could be forced to stop using the term “Full Self Driving” (FSD) in California.

On Tuesday, California lawmakers passed a bill in Senate that could make the electric-car maker’s use of the software’s current name illegal. The legislation, which was sponsored by Senate Transportation Committee Chair Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), now requires a signature from Governor Gavin Newsom.

A spokesperson for Newsom declined to comment on the bill. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of publication.

The bill does not directly target Tesla, but Gonzalez told Los Angeles Times she believes other automakers, including Ford, GM, and BMW have been clearer about the limits of their technology.

The bill would not address any safety concerns around the software, but merely targets its marketing. It would also set new standards for automakers when it comes to explaining the capabilities of driver assist technology. Though, it is unclear how the rule will be enforced as the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV would be in charge of taking action against Tesla.

The lawmakers passed the bill only a few weeks after the state DMV accused Tesla of using misleading marketing to advertise its Autopilot and FSD software.

The Autopilot software acts as a driver assistance feature that keeps the Tesla enables the car to automatically steer, accelerate, and brake within its lane, while FSD is an optional add-on that can change lanes and stop at traffic lights, as well as stop signs. Tesla has told drivers that both features require a licensed driver to operate the vehicle and be prepared to take over at any second.

Some regulators worry the marketing around the software could lull drivers into a false sense of security. Last year, a man was arrested for riding in the backseat while using FSD going down the highway. In June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had expanded its Autopilot investigations, including the software’s potential role in several fatal car accidents.

Gonzalez said she and other lawmakers stepped up to craft the bill after the state DMV was slow to enforce its rules that prohibit advertising cars as “self-driving” if they’re not truly autonomous. Tesla’s FSD is currently classified as a level-two driver-assist system and is in beta testing. The software has over 100,000 subscribers who Tesla can use to test the software in real time and allow the system’s AI to learn from experienced drivers.

“Are we just going to wait for another person to be killed in California?” Gonzalez told the publication. “People in California think Full Self-Driving is fully automated when it’s not,” she added.

While there have been investigations into accidents in the state related to Tesla’s Autopilot, it is unclear whether a driver has died in California while using FSD.

Tesla first coined the term “Full Self-Driving” in 2016. Elon Musk has repeatedly said Tesla will have autonomous cars since as early as 2015. Most recently, he said in July that it would pass beta testing by the end of the year. But, FSD beta tester have repeatedly pointed out bugs in the software.

Most recently, a Tesla critic launched a viral ad campaign that appeared to show the software failing to recognize a child-sized mannequin in the street and crashing into it. Earlier this month, Musk scolded a driver on Twitter who shared a video of the software struggling to make turns and lane changes.

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