California Law Bans OEMs From False Self-Driving Claims
There are no fully self-driving cars on the market. That's a simple truth. The Society of Automotive Engineers has determined that there are five levels of autonomous driving, with level five being fully autonomous. As of last year, there were no cars that went beyond Level 2 -- a few potential Level 3 systems were awaiting regulatory approval.
Yet Tesla has labeled its system "Full-Self Driving" and kept the moniker despite a drumbeat of criticism. And while other automakers have avoided doing the same so far, there's nothing stopping them from doing so.
Well, there wasn't. But a new California law set to go into effect after the new year will require automakers to provide a "clear description" of the system, including its limitations.
The law, called SB No. 1398, goes into effect on Sunday. Here's a key passage: "A manufacturer or dealer shall not name any partial driving automation feature, or describe any partial driving automation feature in marketing materials, using language that implies or would otherwise lead a reasonable person to believe, that the feature allows the vehicle to function as an autonomous vehicle, as defined in Section 38750, or otherwise has functionality not actually included in the feature. A violation of this subdivision shall be considered a misleading advertisement for the purposes of Section 11713."
It's unclear what the punishment would be. It's also unclear how it applies based on an OEM's location -- Tesla has moved its HQ to Texas, but still builds some cars in California. Nor is it clear how it would apply to other OEMs that have headquarters elsewhere and have no factories in California.
It does seem to be an obvious shot at Tesla, though, since the company has been using "full-self driving" terminology even when its cars are not full self-driving.
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California laws always achieve their stated intent so no doubt this will work just as well