Does the name “Autopilot” cause people to overestimate the abilities of Tesla’s driver-assistance technology? It’s a question that comes up in the Ars comments almost every time we write about the feature.
Critics warn that some customers will assume something called “Autopilot” is fully self-driving. Tesla’s defenders counter by pointing out that autopilot capabilities in planes aren’t fully autonomous. Pilots still have to monitor their operation and intervene if they have a problem, and Tesla’s Autopilot system is no different.
A new survey from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety brings some valuable hard data to this debate. The group asked drivers questions about the capabilities of five advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). They identified the products only by their brand name—”Autopilot,” “Traffic Jam Assist,” “Super Cruise,” etc. Survey participants were not told which carmaker made each product, and they did not learn the capabilities of the products. There were 2,000 total respondents, but each was asked about only two out of five systems, leading to a few hundred responses for each product.