Tesla is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for what has been described as “phantom braking,” a problem reportedly plaguing its Autopilot automated driving system (as well as Full Self-Driving). Now a Tesla Model 3 driver from San Francisco, California wants to launch a class action lawsuit against the automaker for this issue, arguing that the company rushed semi-autonomous driving suite to market.
Jose Alvarez Toledo of San Francisco explains that
When the sudden unintended braking defect occurs, they turn what is supposed to be a safety feature into a frightening and dangerous nightmare.
His lawsuit was filed on Friday with a Federal Court in California and the plaintiffs’ stated goal is to turn this into a class action, basically a collective lawsuit against Tesla on behalf of a group of affected people.
The NHTSA began officially looking at the phantom braking issue - basically the car braking with no apparent obstacle ahead - in February of this year after receiving hundreds of complaints from people not satisfied with their Tesla’s automated driving. Its investigation extends to over 400,000 Model 3s and Model Ys built in 2021 and 2022.
In May the NHTSA announced that over 750 drivers had reported the problem and Tesla was asked to respond to the claims by June 20, but the safety organization has not made the automaker’s response public. Tesla could be liable to pay $115-million in civil penalties if it fails to respond.
Tesla also recently faced a campaign started a group called The Dawn Project, which claimed that Teslas would not stop for children in the road and would run them over (both on Autopilot/FSD as well as with a human driver in control and no intervention from the Autonomous Emergency Braking system). This prompted many Tesla owners to perform their own experiments, some even used their own children, in an attempt to prove The Dawn Project’s campaign did not reflect reality.