Waymo drops the term “self-driving”, takes a shot at Tesla

Waymo has announced in a blog post Wednesday it will no longer use the term “self-driving”, and will instead use “more deliberate language.”

Calling it a small but important change, Waymo says it will now refer to its technology as “fully autonomous”. While the company didn’t mention Tesla by name, their explanation for the change was a clear shot aimed directly at Tesla.

“Unfortunately, we see that some automakers use the term “self-driving” in an inaccurate way, giving consumers and the general public a false impression of the capabilities of driver assist (not fully autonomous) technology. That false impression can lead someone to unknowingly take risks (like taking their hands off the steering wheel) that could jeopardize not only their own safety but the safety of people around them.”

The company also said the change to use the term “autonomous driving” could save lives, even though their cars currently only operate as taxi’s in a geofenced area in Arizona.

“…precision in language matters and could save lives. We’re hopeful that consistency will help differentiate the fully autonomous technology Waymo is developing from driver-assist technologies (sometimes erroneously referred to as “self-driving” technologies) that require oversight from licensed human drivers for safe operation.”

Despite clearly stating their Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) package is not fully autonomous, Tesla still receives flack when drivers do not pay attention when behind the wheel (like they’re told to and prompted to by the vehicle).

Last year a German court found Tesla’s was misleading to consumers by using the term Autopilot. Tesla received similar criticism last year from US Senator Ed Markey, who sent a letter to Tesla urging them to fix what he viewed as autonomous “design defects.”

As part of their change in vocabulary, Waymo also announced it is renaming its public education campaign from “Let’s Talk Self-Driving” to “Let’s Talk About Autonomous Driving.”

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