Tesla is again in hot water and is in court after a crash involving the Autopilot system in one of its self-driving cars. A lawsuit was filed against the company in Orange County, Florida. It seeks damages that came as a result of a crash on the state’s turnpike. The lawsuit alleges that Tesla has been fooling its customers into believing that its Autopilot driver-assist system is better than the company has claimed.
The plaintiff was driving his Tesla Model S on State Road 91 on the turnpike. Normally, he uses Autopilot to relieve himself from having to drive the 125 miles from home to work and vice-versa. However, when the car came close to a disabled vehicle, instead of switching lanes, it crashed into it. As a result of the accident, the front of the Tesla was smashed and the plaintiff was left with severe injuries that are permanent in nature.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for negligence as well as misrepresentation on the part of Tesla. However, the plaintiff also included the owner of the disabled vehicle in a lawsuit for negligence in leaving it in the road.
According to a Tesla spokesperson, who sent a statement by email, the car failed to transmit data to the company’s servers. This, in turn, prevented employees from reviewing the data from the car accident. The spokesperson added that the company doesn’t have any reason to believe the Autopilot system didn’t function as it was designed to.
In addition, the statement highlighted that the driver should have, first and foremost, remained vigilant while using Autopilot. Tesla has repeatedly stated that the system is meant to be used while the driver is alert and at the ready in the event of a situation that could lead to an accident. The spokesperson stated that the company also provides concise instructions about Autopilot and how it’s supposed to be used.
According to the plaintiff’s statement to the Orlando Sentinel, he was occasionally glancing at his smartphone while Autopilot was in use. At the same time, he said he never completely trusts the car while in Autopilot, so he was looking up frequently and noticed the disabled car on the turnpike. As per the law in the state of Florida, drivers are allowed to take phone calls while behind the wheel, but it is against the law to text while driving.
The attorney representing the plaintiff replied by saying Tesla’s statement is puzzling and that the company has a big problem if Autopilot is intended to be used in that way.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the sales representative who assisted the plaintiff had exaggerated Autopilot’s abilities, specifically that it could allow the vehicle to self-drive with minimal oversight from the driver.
There have been previous lawsuits making the same claim. In September, there was a lawsuit against Tesla in Utah after a Model S collided with a fire truck that was stopped at a red light. The Autopilot system was in use during the time of the accident.