German court says Tesla “Autopilot” marketing is fine and the dangerous hypocrisy of the “autononwash” movement

Michael DeKort
5 min readAug 15, 2022

Reference article — German Court Overrules “Tesla Autopilot” Marketing Ban — https://cleantechnica.com/2022/08/14/german-court-overrules-tesla-autopilot-marketing-ban/

A German court decided Tesla puts out enough information to offset the public being misled by the “Autopilot” feature name and marketing. The article I referenced mentions both sides but comes up way short by not mentioning Elon is often seen with his hands off the wheel. And he has promised the system would be done within the current year or next several times. Those two would easily lead people to believe the system is driverless or close enough to copy Elon. On the other side of the issue is the very good point that the term “autopilot” in the aerospace world is widely known as not being pilotless. I come down on the side of Elon’s words and actions being enough to come to the opposite finding as the court. Now we will have to see what the CA DMV does.

Beyond this discussion is the more important industry wide issue of hype, lying about being driverless and not only not providing proof, but suing to avoid providing even a snippet of that data. Folks who have legitimate products don’t do this and ask riders to sign NDAs. They seek out the sunlight. One way to do that would be to adopt the draft EU AV Type Certification. Even with its holes. (I provide more on this below.) This leads me to the “autonowashing” crowd only going after Tesla. In the past several months several AV makers have announced they are driverless at L3 or L4 with zero proof. Waymo, Cruise, Argo, Motional, Baidu, Mercedes, and Honda. (Isn’t it just a miraculous happenstance of good fortune these companies all made it to the top of that hill within a few months of each other, especially given there is no meaningful inference or general learning in this domain?) I have not seen a single person say these folks are autonowashing or call for proof of capability. Including the PhD candidate at Bosch, Liza Dixon, who coined the term. The FACT is Tesla has never stated they are driverless. These companies have. Now before you leap out with the fact that Tesla has far more crashes, injuries, and deaths than the others, let me address where you have been duped. Tesla is a mess. Far more egregious, reckless, and incompetent than the rest. But that cannot last forever. At some point all the things these companies do to avoid experiencing many crash scenarios, over and over, to learn them will end. Or they will simply say they are done with zero driver’s testing or proof they passed. Oh, wait a minute, are we at that point now?

Some of the reasons for Tesla being the clear black sheep include that they have far, far, far more cars out their using human Guinea pigs, severely limit their Operational Design Domain (ODD) well below Tesla. (Which is the whole country they are in and in any weather), their Guinea pigs are trained, their driver monitoring has a grossly negligent 20 second or longer alarm time, they have a woefully incompetent sensor system, do not have drivers sign NDAs and cannot stop public disclosure of performance. Often through YouTube. At the very least these “autonowash” champions of safety should demand proof of capabilities before they determine a company is not “autonowashing”. But they aren’t going to do that. Why? They want to stop Tesla because Tesla is upsetting the applecart for everyone else. Injuring and killing people at a faster clip than they are. Ruing their chances to do the same at their own slightly more responsible pace.

More on my POV here. Including how to do this right.

The same folks who now rail against Tesla thought they were a shining star and don’t know or care they are only the worst of the bunch

· https://imispgh.medium.com/the-same-folks-who-now-rail-against-tesla-thought-they-were-a-shining-star-and-dont-know-or-care-332b041d0959

The Autonomous Vehicle Industry can be Saved by doing the Opposite of what is being done now to create this technology

· https://medium.com/@imispgh/the-autonomous-vehicle-industry-can-be-saved-by-doing-the-opposite-of-what-is-being-done-now-b4e5c6ae9237

The EU proposes a driverless driver’s test that is pretty good — Waymo, Cruise, Gatik etc would fail it

· https://imispgh.medium.com/the-eu-proposes-a-driverless-drivers-test-that-is-pretty-good-waymo-cruise-gatik-etc-would-27e692e8ea7e

SAE Autonomous Vehicle Engineering magazine editor calling me “prescient” regarding my position on Tesla and the overall driverless vehicle industry’s untenable development and testing approach — (Page 2) https://assets.techbriefs.com/EML/2021/digital_editions/ave/AVE-202109.pdf

Tesla “autopilot” development effort needs to be stopped and people held accountable

· https://medium.com/@imispgh/tesla-autopilot-development-effort-needs-to-be-stopped-and-people-arrested-f280229d2284

Tesla upgrading cameras and putting radar back? I thought the system was enough to get to L4? This is admitting incompetence and negligence, especially to NHTSA

· https://imispgh.medium.com/tesla-upgrading-cameras-and-putting-radar-back-96368435daee

NHTSA and Tesla back themselves into a mutual corner-With Tesla giving NHTSA a way to ding it without exposing the industry

· https://imispgh.medium.com/nhtsa-and-tesla-back-themselves-into-a-mutual-corner-with-tesla-giving-nhtsa-a-way-to-ding-it-178db5688c4a

Tesla, not the “safety driver”, should likely be charged in the first “Full Self Driving” manslaughter case

· https://imispgh.medium.com/tesla-not-the-safety-driver-should-likely-be-charged-in-the-first-full-self-driving-4da9b27034c

NHTSA should impose an immediate “Autopilot” moratorium and report initial investigation findings in 30 days

· https://imispgh.medium.com/nhtsa-should-impose-an-immediate-autopilot-moratorium-and-report-initial-investigation-findings-de5b6da4d704

How the failed Iranian hostage rescue in 1980 can save the Autonomous Vehicle industry

· https://imispgh.medium.com/how-the-failed-iranian-hostage-rescue-in-1980-can-save-the-autonomous-vehicle-industry-be76238dea36

My name is Michael DeKort — I am Navy veteran (ASW C4ISR) and a former system engineer, engineering, and program manager for Lockheed Martin. I worked in aircraft simulation, the software engineering manager for all of NORAD, a software project manager on an Aegis Weapon System baseline, and a C4ISR systems engineer for DoD/DHS and the US State Department (counterterrorism). And a Senior Advisory Technical Project Manager for FTI to the Army AI Task Force at CMU NREC (National Robotics Engineering Center)

Autonomous Industry Participation — Air and Ground

- Founder SAE On-Road Autonomous Driving Simulation Task Force

- Member SAE ORAD Verification and Validation Task Force

- Member UNECE WP.29 SG2 Virtual Testing

- Stakeholder USDOT VOICES (Virtual Open Innovation Collaborative Environment for Safety)

- Member SAE G-35, Modeling, Simulation, Training for Emerging AV Tech

- Member SAE G-34 / EUROCAE WG-114 Artificial Intelligence in Aviation

- Member Teleoperation Consortium

- Member CIVATAglobal — Civic Air Transport Association

- Stakeholder for UL4600 — Creating AV Safety Guidelines

- Member of the IEEE Artificial Intelligence & Autonomous Systems Policy Committee

SAE Autonomous Vehicle Engineering magazine editor calling me “prescient” regarding my position on Tesla and the overall driverless vehicle industry’s untenable development and testing approach — (Page 2) https://assets.techbriefs.com/EML/2021/digital_editions/ave/AVE-202109.pdf

Presented the IEEE Barus Ethics Award for Post 9/11 DoD/DHS Whistleblowing Efforts

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Michael DeKort

Non-Tribal Truth Seeker-IEEE Barus Ethics Award/9–11 Whistleblower-Aerospace/DoD Systems Engineer/Member SAE Autonomy and eVTOL development V&V & Simulation