Department Of Transportation In Hong Kong Says That Tesla’s “Autopilot” Is Illegal

The equivalent of the Department of Transportation in Hong Kong has reportedly clarified that Tesla’s new autopilot feature is technically illegal until it’s been approved, owing to the city’s Road Traffic Ordinance.

As such, drivers that use the new feature and end up in an accident will likely be prosecuted, as well as forced to cover the costs of the accident entirely themselves, as insurers are unlikely to pay out in such a situation — according to a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council’s transport panel by the name of James To Kun-sun.

There are reportedly around 2,000 Tesla electric vehicles (EV) in Hong Kong currently, with only a portion of those driving models with autopilot compatibility, so the number of people affected by this isn’t huge. Nonetheless, I’m sure that those who are affected aren’t too happy about it.

Fortune provides more:

A report in the South China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper based in Hong Kong, suggests that certain functions in electric vehicles made by Tesla Motors may be illegal. In question is Tesla’s Autopilot mode, which uses radar, cameras, and ultrasonic sensors to allow its Model S sedans to automatically adjust speed, change lanes, and park— no driver necessary.

The feature, which debuted last month, has been largely welcomed with open arms. It has the ability to prevent a collision, for starters. It’s the latest step toward the fully autonomous vehicle. And it demonstrates how, thanks to algorithms and computing concepts like machine learning, your car could improve over time —even as we humans occasionally do not.

I wonder how much of a sticking point this will be for the company in general — as autopilot/autonomous features become more and more advanced, how much will bureaucracy get in the way?

(Tip of the hat here to “Optic” on the Tesla Motors Club forum.)

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