"It shows Tesla does not keep full-bodied promises when it comes to Autopilot."
Tesla may offer a range of hugely popular and capable electric vehicles but the rest of the industry is quickly catching up. And not just in terms of electric mobility, either. Mercedes-Benz has since surpassed the company in terms of self-driving technology. While Tesla's Beta Full Self-Driving (FSD) has been embroiled in several incidents, Stuttgart's luxury brand is now offering Level 3 autonomy in Germany.
It's not just the USA where Autopilot faces scrutiny. A Munich court has recently ruled in favor of a disgruntled Model X owner and has ruled that Tesla needs to reimburse her with most of the €112,000 (approx. $113,700) she originally paid for the vehicle. This is according to Spiegel Mobility, a German publication that reports the court found Autopilot to be a "massive danger" to the driver and other road users.
A verdict was reached after the court received a document on the ineffectiveness of the technology. According to the technical report, Autopilot is unable to "reliably recognize obstacles" like narrowing lanes in a construction zone. What's more, it was found that the system relies on the brakes too much. The report refers to this as a "massive hazard" that could lead to the vehicle being rear-ended.
Tesla's defense was quickly shut down by the court. The automaker's legal team argued that Autopilot isn't intended for use in the city. The court rejected this, noting that owners having to manually switch the system on and off could distract from driving responsibilities. The plaintiff's lawyer, Christoph Lindner, had some strong words for the automaker. "Once again. it shows Tesla does not keep full-bodied promises when it comes to Autopilot."
This is not the first time German courts have ruled against Tesla either, previously saying a car on Autopilot drove "like a drunk novice."
Last week, a tragic Autopilot accident claimed the lives of two occupants after the Model S they were traveling in collided with a stationary truck. This is the latest in a string of Autopilot-related accidents in the United States. Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) upgraded its investigation surrounding the controversial technology.
Internally, Tesla has taken a hit in terms of Autopilot and FSD. Just after Tesla dismissed more than 200 employees from the Autopilot department, lead artificial intelligence executive Andrej Karpathy resigned from the company. While the split appears to be amicable, it's certainly a blow to the company's progress. There's no denying this technology is remarkable, but there are far too many chinks in its armor.
It remains to be seen whether Tesla will be able to navigate these various problems, especially as rival brands introduce tech that's smoother and safer. For the company's sake, we certainly hope so.