Tesla hit with class-action lawsuit over ‘phantom braking’ issue

San Francisco: Elon Musk-run Tesla has been hit by a class-action lawsuit in the US over a phantom braking problem that the lawsuit alleged turned “a safety feature into a frightening and dangerous nightmare”.

The lawsuit, filed by Tesla owner Jose Alvarez Toledo in federal court in the Northern District of California seeking punitive damages, claimed there are “hundreds of thousands” of customers that could seek to join his class action suit against the company, reports The Verge.

The lawsuit accused the electric car-maker of “fraudulently hiding the safety risks associated with the company’s Autopilot driver assist system, breaching its warranties, unfairly profiting from Autopilot, and violating California’s unfair competition law”.

Phantom braking is when an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), or a self-driving system, applies the brakes for no good reason.

The system can be falsely detecting an object on the road or anticipating a collision that won’t actually happen and apply the brake to try to avoid it.

The lawsuit comes as Tesla faces a federal investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into its phantom braking problem, which first surfaced last fall.

The US transport agency opened an investigation into over 400,000 Teslas for problems with their automated emergency braking systems.

The US government has received more than 750 complaints of unexpected braking from Tesla owners.

“Many Tesla owners have reported significant, unexpected slow-downs and stops due to the false engagement of their Class Vehicle’s braking systems, even though no objects were nearby,” the lawsuit read.

“When the ‘Sudden Unintended Braking Defect’ occurs, they turn what is supposed to be a safety feature into a frightening and dangerous nightmare,” it added.

Tesla was yet to react to the lawsuit.


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