Tesla reaches settlement in class-action Autopilot case

Tesla In Autopilot Mode Sped Up Before Utah Crash

Tesla has paid out $5 million to settle a 2017 class action lawsuit that originally alleged that the Autopilot feature shipped in 2016 in the company's cars was "essentially unusable and demonstrably unsafe".

The settlement, which was agreed to late Thursday in San Jose federal court, has to get a final signoff from U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman. Customers who wanted the upgraded Autopilot system paid $5,000 for the feature.

"Our neural net, which expands as our customer fleet grows, is able to collect and analyze more high-quality data than ever before, which will enable us to roll out a series of new Autopilot features in 2018 and beyond", the company said.

A Tesla spokeswoman, Keely Sulprizio, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The case was closely watched in the automotive and legal communities, as it was the only known court challenge Tesla faced with regard to its assisted-driving technology. Moreover, the vehicle's logs revealed that the Model X issued a number of alerts to the driver in the seconds preceding the crash, essentially instructing him to resume control of the auto.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it is investigating the May 11 crash.

Autopilot, released in 2015, is an enhanced cruise-control system that partially automates steering and braking. Two fatal collisions have occurred while Autopilot mode was on, along with a crash in which the driver said she was checking her phone while the feature was engaged. However, the agency said that the regulators have not yet assessed its effectiveness.

They sought to represent a nationwide class of consumers.

She said she owned the auto for two years and used the semi-autonomous Autopilot feature on all kinds of roadways, including the Utah highway where she crashed, according to the report. Other features, such as side collision warnings and automatic high beams, were not reliable or simply didn't work, they said.

They said the system was unsafe to use as it brakes unexpectedly for no reason and fails to brake when approaching large vehicles, such as trucks and buses.

Meanwhile, consumer advocacy groups this week urged the Federal Trade Commission to probe Tesla's use of the name "Autopilot" for the feature.

"Two Americans are dead and one is injured as a result of Tesla deceiving and misleading consumers into believing that the Autopilot feature of its vehicles is safer and more capable than it actually is", the groups said in a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons.

Data shows the time elapsed just before the Telsa plowed into the firetruck was just 3.5 seconds.

'What's actually awesome about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60 miles per hour and the driver only broke an ankle, ' Musk tweeted.

Police suggested that the Tesla was following another vehicle and lowered its speed to 55 miles per hour to match the lead vehicle. The acceleration from 55 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour suggests that the Tesla had been following a slower auto that then moved out of the way, allowing the Tesla to resume the higher speed that the Autopilot system had been set at.

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