Assisted Driving Is Risky German Court Awards Customer A Tesla
Due to a technical defect in Tesla's assisted driving system AutoPilot, a court in Munich, Germany, on Friday ordered Tesla Inc. to compensate a customer €112,000, which is the majority of the cost of purchasing a Model X.
According to a technical report, Tesla Model X vehicles equipped with the assisted driving system AutoPilot were unable to reliably identify obstacles such as narrow road construction and sometimes activated the brakes unnecessarily. The Munich court found that the use of AutoPilot could pose a "great danger" in the city center and lead to collisions.
Tesla's lawyers argued that the Autopilot assisted driving system was not designed for urban traffic. Tesla's current assisted driving system includes both AutoPilot and FSD, with AutoPilot primarily used for highway assisted driving and FSD primarily used for assisted driving on city streets.
The court said it is not feasible for drivers to manually switch between these functions in different environments because it would distract from driving.
It is understood that the AutoPilot system is a feature that comes with Tesla vehicles, and if an enhanced version of the AutoPilot feature, EAP, needs to be purchased for an additional fee. Tesla has adjusted the pricing of its assisted driving software several times over the past few years, with EAP currently priced at $6,000 in the U.S. and the assisted driving FSD feature, which can be used in more scenarios, priced at $12,000 in the U.S.
A Tesla salesperson told reporters that both the EAP and FSD features allow for automatic lane changing, automatic parking, smart summoning, and navigation on Autopilot, while the FSD is able to recognize signage such as traffic lights and stop signs, in addition to containing all of the basic AutoPilot features and EAP enhancements.
However, there are still not many people buying the software for Tesla's Assisted Driving upgrade feature. According to a recent study of more than 17,000 Tesla owners worldwide by market research firm Troy Teslike, the usage of Tesla's FSD-enabled software is only about 11 percent.
Musk sees FSD software as a growth point for Tesla's future earnings, due to the software's ability to bring the company higher margins, which is expected to fill the decline in car hardware profits. However, after several rounds of price increases, FSD usage has declined significantly, and in order to boost usage, Tesla launched a monthly FSD package last year. In addition, as expected, the proportion of higher-end model Model S and Model X owners buying FSD-enabled software is much higher than that of the lower-priced Model 3 and Model Y models.
Industry insiders analyzed to reporters, Tesla FSD function has been controversial, mainly because the function does not live up to its name, despite the use of FSD "fully automated driving" name, but in fact for the auxiliary driving, can not make the vehicle achieve real automatic driving. Tesla is still only a promise for the future of fully autonomous driving.
Ske said back in 2019 that Tesla would launch driverless cabs by 2020. "Our goal is to develop and deploy fully automated driving in our fleet of millions of vehicles." Musk said at the time, but that goal has yet to be achieved.
Tesla is currently at a critical stage in its evolution from assisted driving to autonomous driving. Tesla CEO Musk said in March this year that Tesla may launch a beta version of the new FSD software in Europe later this year, although the specific still depends on regulatory approval. He also admitted: "Fully automated driving in Europe is quite difficult, and a lot of work needs to be done to deal with the differences in roads across Europe."
The road to truly fully automated driving in markets such as China and Europe is even longer because of the greater restrictions on the use of FSD features in those markets compared to the U.S. market.
Meanwhile, Tesla is also under investigation by road safety agencies in the U.S. for accidents related to the AutoPilot system. Of the 16 accidents under investigation, including seven injuries and one fatality, involved vehicles in Tesla's Assisted Driving system striking stationary first responders and road maintenance vehicles, among others.
Andrej Karpathy, Tesla's executive in charge of Assisted Driving, who played a key role in developing Tesla's artificial intelligence and driver assistance technology, recently announced he is leaving the company. Also closing was Tesla's office in San Mateo, California, where 229 employees were laid off, most of whom were working on assisted driving data labeling.