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Lawsuit accusing Tesla of false advertising on its full-self driving technology

Santa Barbara brothers accuse Tesla of false advertising of claiming that the Model S purchased in 2016 is fully autonomous. The lawsuit by the Filipinos brothers mentions that Tesla sales staff didn’t discourage when they mentioned working during the commute. And the staff shared stories of 55 miles without touching any controls, giving the impression that the car is fully autonomous. Tesla attempted to dismiss the lawsuit on technical grounds, but the Supreme Court of California allowed the case to be continued.

Deadly crashes raise questions about safety of Tesla's Autopilot | The Star

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However, in 2018 when Tesla introduced autopilot mode, the website mentioned, “Drivers are responsible for and must remain in control of their car at all times.” Additionally, the company also took certain measures like taking action on those who misuse the Full-Self Driving system (FSD). If it is observed that the driver was distracted, the vehicle was to stop immediately. Contrary to the various YouTube videos posted online which allow the users to drive without paying attention. Tesla’s autopilot was yet to work on every aspect.

The story according to the lawsuit

The Santa Barbara brothers are Alexandro and Iaian Filippini who operate a wealth management company. They filed a lawsuit last year claiming that the Tesla Model S they purchased in 2016 was falsely represented saying the car was capable of full self-driving. As stated in the lawsuit, “not only did the salespersons not discourage that intention. They confirmed and encouraged plaintiffs’ expectations that the vehicle would be suitable for that purpose, sharing stories of driving 55 miles without having to touch any controls more than once or twice.”

Eventually, when the brothers tried Tesla autopilot they realized that the vehicle is far from fully autonomous. Then when they went to the staff they were informed that the vehicle would be fully autonomous in the coming years. Also mentioned that they will need to keep coming to the service center for updating their cars.

As per the SAE International standards of automation, Tesla cars are on level 2 automation out of 5 levels. Under fraud and violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the allegations were sufficiently stated by the Santa Barbara brothers.

During that time in 2020, the CEO and founder of Tesla Elon Musk was also claiming that their cars enable a hands-off experience. He mentioned that his employees were regularly communiting from the Bay Area to Seattle with barely one hand.

Not the first time to be known for false allegations

Tesla in Germany is not allowed to use “Self-driving” technology terminology. As per a ruling by Munich’s regional court 1 on 14th July 2020, Tesla advertising comes under misleading commercial practices. Currently, Tesla’s autopilot is called “driving assistance” in the country.

The lawsuit in Germany was filed by a private local competition watchdog, Zentrale zur Bekämpfung unlauteren Wettbewerbs e.V. They stated that Tesla claimed to be fully autonomous with sentences like “Your parked car will come to find you anywhere in a parking lot”. They claimed that the advertising gave a regular user the impression that the car can drive on its own.

According to the court’s ruling, the cars could technically drive without hands-on experience. However, the level of autonomy was found to be only Level 2. Added that the term “autopilot” is often associated with aircraft being used without human intervention. Finally, any autopilot technology is not approved by the Federal Republic of Germany under the current Road Traffic Act (StVG).

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