FSD in the Legal Spotlight

FSD in the Legal Spotlight

Customers of the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) technologies have filed a class-action lawsuit against Tesla. They contend that Tesla's marketing materials from the previous six years and comments made by co-founder and CEO Elon Musk misled them into believing that fully autonomous driving was on the horizon. No Tesla currently on the road is fully self-driving competent, but Tesla nevertheless charges $15,000 for what it refers to as a Full Self-Driving Capability.

A long-term, aspirational goal not being realized is not fraud, according to Tesla's legal team. Briggs Matsko, a Rancho Murieta, California, resident, is the primary plaintiff. If the case proceeds, it may result in the deposition of Tesla staff members who worked on the technology's development, revealing what Musk knew and didn't know about the technology's true capabilities at the time he made several predictions over the years.

Customers can sue as a large group in a public trial, known as a class, but in arbitration, each client would be on their own. While testimony from current or past Tesla employees on the status of the company's autonomous technology development at any given time might be made public during a trial, that information would remain hidden during arbitration.

FSD under constant scrutiny

For years, regulatory bodies have been looking into Tesla's automated technology. Autopilot software has been implicated in several fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into a few things, one of which is why Teslas seem to crash into emergency cars parked on the side of the road so frequently. The organization hasn't announced a public deadline for a decision.

Less than two years after the introduction of its first camera-based autonomous driving systems and months after going all-in on camera technology, US electric car manufacturer Tesla is poised to reverse its decision to remove radar sensors from its vehicles. Tesla will once more outfit its US vehicles with radar sensors starting in "mid-January 2023," according to a submission to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulator, though specifics of the system won't be revealed until early February.

Tesla Vision camera-based system

This information signals a big U-turn for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has previously asserted that radar (and lidar) sensors are not required to provide fully autonomous driving. Tesla Vision, a camera system that was introduced in the US in May 2021, replaced the radar sensors that were used in the automaker's advanced driver assistance systems, marketed as Autopilot and Full Self-Driving.

The Tesla Model 3 is slated to receive significant updates in the coming year, according to sources from other countries last month. The first instances of the improved electric sedan are anticipated to go into production in China between July and September 2023. The camera-only system was introduced as US safety officials began looking into 416,000 automobiles that were allegedly fitted with the technology.

The NHTSA launched the investigation, which focuses on phantom braking complaints made by Tesla customers who claim their vehicles suddenly slam on the brakes after sensing an impassable impediment ahead. Tesla's choice to switch back to radar sensors from camera-based technology represents a considerable retreat from Mr. Musk's audacious predictions for the arrival of "Tesla Vision" in 2021.

Musk stated in a quarterly earnings call:

"There’s no question in my mind that with a pure vision solution, we can make a car that is dramatically safer than the average person. When your vision works, it works better than the best human because it’s like having eight cameras, it’s like having eyes in the back of your head, beside your head, and has three eyes of different focal distances looking forward."

FSD is no longer in beta

Anyone in North America who has paid for Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" Beta can now request it, with no mention of needing to meet minimal safety standards. The beta software was first made accessible to a select group of users in 2020, and it has since been steadily expanded to include approximately 160,000 drivers as of October this year. Drivers generally need to reach a minimum safety level using Tesla's Safety Score function and log 100 miles using the company's innovative Autopilot driver assistance system to gain access to the beta.