Hong Kong Transportation Department officials had ordered Tesla Motors to disable both Autosteer and Auto Lane Change features in its Autopilot system for the country’s market. The hands-free systems are deemed to be too distracting for drivers.
In response to this, Tesla has sent a letter to Model S owners based in Hong Kong informing them that the company has disabled the features which effective immediately and without the owners’ consent through over-the-air update. In the letter, the company also mentioned that they are optimistic to receive final approvals soon. Prior to this, Tesla has already recommended drivers to keep at least one hand on steering wheel when Autosteer feature is activated. However, most drivers chose to trust the system and removed both hands from the steering wheel.
On separate occasion, after finding out about videos of Model S owners’ misusing the Autopilot feature surfaced on the internet, Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, said that the company would move to put restrictions to Autopilot feature to prevent it from happening again.
The movement from Hong Kong Transportation authorities should be seen as a slap on Tesla’s wrist instead of a bad omen for the global implementation of self driving cars. It seems like not only Tesla who implements Autopilot feature on its cars. Other automakers such as Honda and Mercedes-Benz also had implemented similar system to their cars. However the only difference is that other automaker’s system requires driver’s hands to be on the wheel. If the system finds out that both hands are not on the wheel, the system will automatically deactivated whereas Tesla’s system does not do this.