Tesla in Autopilot sped up before Utah crash

  • Tesla in Autopilot sped up before Utah crash

Tesla in Autopilot sped up before Utah crash

Tesla Inc on Thursday reached an agreement to settle a class action lawsuit with buyers of its Model S and Model X cars who alleged that the company's assisted-driving Autopilot system was "essentially unusable and demonstrably unsafe".

A series of crashes that took place while Autopilot was active didn't help dissuade anyone of that, though Tesla has maintained that the feature has improved safety overall.

She said she owned the vehicle 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.

The AP said the police report was obtained Thursday through an open records request.

The driver of the vehicle, Heather Lommatzsch, 29, told police she thought the vehicle's automatic emergency braking system would detect traffic and stop before the auto hit another vehicle. They say the leading vehicle then likely changed lanes and the Tesla automatically sped up to its preset speed of 60 miles per hour without noticing the stopped cars ahead.

Class members, who paid an extra $5,000 to get the Autopilot upgrade between 2016 and 2017, will receive between $20 and $280 in compensation. The Autopilot system including visual and audio of the warnings if they remove their hands from the wheel.

The 29-year-old driver, Heather Lommatzsch, was charged with a misdemeanor traffic citation after police say vehicle data shows she didn't touch the steering wheel for 80 seconds before the crash.

It is notable that Tesla has refused to agree to one of the seemingly reasonable requests of the plaintiffs - that it reimburse them the cost of the system - another pointer that the company is rapidly running out of money.

She told police she was looking at her phone comparing different routes to her destination.

Tesla's Autopilot system has come under increased scrutiny in recent months after two Tesla drivers died in crashes in which Autopilot was engaged.

But Tesla said previously that since rolling out its second generation of Autopilot, it has continued to update software leading to major improvements. NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating that case. However, Steve Berman, the lawyer of the company has not commented yet.

This past March, a Model X driving along a California highway careened into a highway divider whereupon the car's battery pack caught on fire and engulfed the vehicle.

Teslas with the autopilot function enabled have been involved in crashes, including a recent case in Southern California where the vehicle allegedly sped up before crashing into fire truck. While Model S banged on the semi-truck in Florida which killed its driver.

Earlier this week, consumer advocacy groups wrote to the also the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking it to investigate Tesla's "deceptive and misleading" use of the name "Autopilot" for something that is not by any measure an autopilot.