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Tesla is Being Sued by Owners Over ‘Dangerous Defective' Autopilot

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【Summary】Tesla is being sued by vehicle owners over claims that the automaker’s Autopilot system is “dangerously defective” when engaged.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 24, 2017 8:15 AM PT
Tesla is Being Sued by Owners Over ‘Dangerous Defective' Autopilot

Tesla Motors is one of the few automakers on the market that sells its vehicles with autonomous capabilities. According to the SAE, the Tesla Model S is a Level 2 driverless vehicle, meaning the automobile has software that can do most of the driving on its own, but the human behind the wheel of the car must be ready to take over at any time. 

While the majority of owners are happy to come along for the ride and act as guinea pigs for the automaker as it attempts to perfect its self-driving tech, others aren't exactly excited by that idea. 

Tesla Owners Don't Appreciate Being Guinea Pigs

According to a report by Automotive News, Tesla is being sued by vehicle owners over claims that its Autopilot feature is "dangerously defective" when engaged. In a complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif. states that owners using the automaker's driverless technology have "become beta testers of half-baked software that renders Tesla vehicles dangerous." 

Owners claim that Tesla's cars, which range from roughly $70,000 to $135,000, veer off lanes while "lurching, slamming on the brakes for no reason, and failing to slow or stop when approaching others vehicles." This occurs, as Automotive News reports, when the vehicle's Autopilot feature is engaged. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 47,000 Model S and Model X owners who bought their vehicles in 2016 and 2017. According to Insurance Journal, approximately half of the 47,000 vehicles from Tesla have the second-generation of Autopilot features that cost an additional $5,000 per vehicle, claim vehicle owners. 

The owners also claim that the safety features on Tesla's vehicles are either unsafe to use or non-functioning. That, according to owners, isn't what the electric automaker previously promised, citing a fully driverless vehicle by a claimed date of December 2016, reports Insurance Journal. There have been some incidents in the past that show how unsafe Tesla's Autopilot systems can be in the wrong hands. 

Cost Of Being First

Tesla, as Insurance Journal reports, never claimed that its electric cars are fitted with "full self-driving capability." The automaker also went onto to state that in a statement that "lawsuit is a disingenuous attempt to secure attorney's fees posing as a legitimate legal action, which is evidenced by the fact that the suit misrepresents many facts." The statement also goes on to state that "the inaccurate and sensationalist view of our technology put forth by this group is exactly the kind of misinformation that threatens to harm consumer safety." 

As Insurance Journal reports, every single vehicle from Tesla since October 2014 has some type of Autopilot hardware on it, allowing the automaker to collect approximately 1.3 billion miles of data. By using the data, Tesla has worked on over-the-air software updates that it automatically rolls out to owners. The end goal of all of this work is to release a Level 5 autonomous vehicle, which would be capable of driving itself without any input from a driver, sometime in the near future. 

Being one of the first on the scene to come out with self-driving tech has obviously put Tesla in a precarious position, which may affect the automaker's future vehicles and how it continues to roll out major revisions every year.  

via: Automotive News, Insurance Journal

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