Tesla contests the lawsuit, calling complaints disingenuous.
Tesla is facing a new autonomous driving-related lawsuit, after claims that the software built into their electric vehicles is dangerous when engaged. According to a complaint issued to the San Jose US Disctrict Court on Wednesday, owners who use the autopilot system “become beta testers of half-baked software that renders Tesla vehicles dangerous.” Consumers have complained that the autopilot software sometimes causes veering out of lanes, “lurching, slamming on the brakes for no reason, and failing to slow or stop when approaching other vehicles”.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of owners of Tesla Model X and Model S vehicles who bought their cars during the two quarters which ended on March 31st. At least half of those 47,000 cars have been fitted with autopilot 2.0 systems for an extra $5,000. Consumers are complaining that the safety systems built into autopilot 2.0 are either non-existent or don’t work as advertised. This contrasts against Tesla’s original marketing, which claimed full functionality would be available by December 2016 (this date has since been shifted however).
Tesla meanwhile, say that the lawsuit is frivolous, and that they have never claimed that their cars, at the time of sale, were armed with full self-driving capability: “This 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 company said in a statement. “The inaccurate and sensationalistic view of our technology put forth by this group is exactly the kind of misinformation that threatens to harm consumer safety.”
All Tesla vehicles produced since October 2014 contain autopilot software that collect vehicle data under a variety of road conditions and transmit that data back to Tesla. So far, over 1.3 billion miles of data from their vehicles has been collected and used to refine the autopilot software. The refinements are frequently sent to Tesla’s cars via automatic over-the-air software updates.
Tesla’s autopilot technology came under fire last year, when a 40-year-old Tesla owner was killed after his 2015 Tesla Model S drove under the trailer of an 18-wheeler truck. The accident didn’t trigger a lawsuit, but another suit was filed by Tesla owners last year. The owners, who lost control of their vehicles and crashed into walls or garage doors, claim that their cars exhibited sudden acceleration. That case is currently pending in the Los Angeles district court.