A Florida-based Tesla driver has announced his intention to sue the company claiming the autopilot feature failed in his Model S causing him to slam into a car on the Florida Turnpike. Law firm, Morgan & Morgan announced on Tuesday they will sue the electric car company on behalf of their client.
According to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Orange County, the Model S slammed into a stalled car after the autopilot feature failed, causing him severe injuries including a broken neck. Shawn Hudson of Winter Garden was attracted to purchasing a Tesla because of the cars autopilot ability.
Driver attracted to autopilot for a commute
Hudson had a two-hour commute from his home to his workplace and reportedly went to a Tesla dealer to get more information about the technology.
"Tesla's sales representative reassured Hudson that all he needed to do as the driver of the vehicle is to occasionally place his hand on the steering wheel and that the vehicle would 'do everything else,'" the lawsuit claims.
However, this description of the feature is untrue. Tesla’s autopilot system can handle a variety of road and driving conditions it cannot stop the vehicle if an unexpected obstacle is in the way such as a parked car.
There have been at least two other instances when Tesla’s have hit parked or stationary cars when in autopilot mode. "Through a pervasive national marketing campaign and a purposefully manipulative sales pitch, Tesla has duped consumers" into believing that Autopilot can "transport passengers at highway speeds with minimal input and oversight," the lawsuit continues.
Hudson was reportedly driving the familiar route in autopilot mode when the car slammed into the stationary car. His lawyers say he was lucky the stalled car was only a Ford Fiesta and that a larger car would have likely resulted in more serious injury or even death for Mr. Hudson.
Tesla oversells technology claims driver
"Hudson became the guinea pig for Tesla to experiment their fully autonomous vehicle," Morgan stated. Most current driver assist technologies are unable to stop a car traveling at freeway speeds. The stalled car was unexpected and the Model S was thought to be traveling at approximately 80 mph.
Tesla does market its self-driving technology very aggressively. A large banner sits across its Autopilot homepage stating, “ Full Self-Driving Hardware on All Cars”. There is also a video that shows a driver of a Tesla navigating urban streets with their hands on their lap.
The video is apparently at least two years old and shows a concept vehicle, however, there is not text or disclaimer to indicate this. Interesting Engineering will continue to update this story as it unfolds.