Tesla tested for ‘false advertising’ with AutoPilot system

Tesla tested for ‘false advertising’ with AutoPilot system


The lawsuit calls into question the reliability of AutoPilot, the brand’s semi-autonomous driving system. It is a Level 2 assistant, according to SAE international criteria, capable of driving (turning the steering wheel, accelerating and braking) the vehicle by itself, in most situations, but requiring uninterrupted supervision from the driver.

“When selling, enthusiasm is given, but in practical use, it is clear that it is a false advertisement”, says Matsko, who acquired the Model X in 2018.

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“The real goal is to attract investment, fund your stock and increase sales, because Tesla doesn’t offer anything that even remotely comes close to a self-driving car. [de verdade]. And that creates a feeling of overconfidence in the driver”, he added.

The Musk-founded automaker is already facing 38 investigations by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over its advanced driver assistance system, which is involved in a crash that killed 19 people.

This, however, is the first time AutoPilot has been challenged on commercial grounds, not just security flaws.

“The worst thing is that when the system is activated, the driver’s eyes are lost on the road more often and for a longer time compared to normal driving conditions,” says researcher Pnina Gershon of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). MIT).

Read also: Automakers invest trillions in technologies that aren’t 100% functional yet.

The MIT study was the first to quantify the effects of autonomous driving, specifically AutoPilot.

“Of course, what we noticed is that when the automatic is activated, the driver’s eyes not only take their eyes off the road, but they do so for a longer time”, emphasizes Pnina.

For the reader to have a basis for comparison, when the driver is in charge, he only diverts his attention from the traffic for more than two seconds, during 4% of the time behind the wheel. When the system is activated, this time increases to 22% – more than five times more.

The manufacturer has until the 22nd of this month to file its defense (Case #22-05240, US District Court, Northern District of California) related to at least 11 accidents in which Tesla models crashed into emergency vehicles that stopped to provide assistance. were guided by AutoPilot.

“The fact is that the brand has defined the need for driving attention without any regulatory oversight,” says researcher at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, Bryan Reimer.

“The traditional measure calculates that, if you look at the point ahead, the driver has two seconds to react to a dangerous situation. But what happens, in practice, is that the California company has been defining, according to its marketing interests, the policy of transport security”, warns Reimer.

AutoPilot upgrade

The semi-autonomous level 2 system is the target of a class action lawsuit in California

Five years ago, petitioner Briggs Matsko paid US$5,000 (equivalent to R$26,000) for the Enhanced (EA) version of AutoPilot – the second generation of the autonomous system, capable of “navigating” two- or three-lane roads. , change lanes and move. from one highway to another.

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If Tesla is found guilty, its vehicles could be banned from driving in California, and its responsibility to pay customers could reach even those who were not involved in the case, including those who have rented one of its models since 2016.

“Customers who have software for their modern cars are acting like guinea pigs. Not to mention errors that occur unexpectedly, such as lane departures, red lights – unacceptable in the Full Self-Driving version, available from 2020 – and, most dangerously, lane changes on curves”, comments Matsko.

Behind the problems presented by AutoPilot is a major control concern.

“If each original equipment supplier (OEM), which develops a set that includes subsystems for car manufacturers, develops its technology, in isolation, we will end up with a series of cars that do not communicate and, as a result, not create a good ecosystem in traffic”, warns Pnina Gershon, from MIT.

Read also: Tesla Cybertruck can fail thanks to the new battery

“The user cannot be treated as a pig and the developers need to work together to filter the most practical and efficient solutions, after all, we are talking about the safety of people”.

At the end of August this year, the owner of Model 3 had already sued Tesla, in court, because of the failure in the emergency braking system. José Alvarez Toledo said in his first order that “when the safety feature breaks down, the driver begins to drive in danger, living a nightmare”.

The lawsuit, which also has the status of a class action, accuses Elon Musk’s brand of “hiding defects, violating product warranties and unfair competition.” The action seeks not only damages for moral damages, but also seeks payment for any repairs and a reduction in the list price of Tesla models.

The manufacturer shut down its Press Office in 2020 and, therefore, does not respond to the demands of journalists sent to its administration.

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