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Tesla buys back Model 3 after customer claimed autopilot was like a ‘drunk driver’

Tesla has been ordered by a German court to buy back a $76,000 Model 3 from a disgruntled customer who said the electric sedan’s autopilot function was so poor that it mimicked a “drunk novice driver.” The ruling handed down by a judge in Darmstadt Regional Court near the southwestern German city of Frankfurt is the latest public relations black eye for Tesla’s much-maligned Full Self-Driving package. Tesla has appealed the court’s ruling, according to the German-language daily Spiegel. It claimed that any issues with the vehicle’s software could have been remedied with an upgrade, which would have been free of charge. The plaintiff in the case told the court that they spent nearly $7,000 for the autopilot features that did not even work. According to Spiegel, the “assistance functions such as automatically overtaking slower vehicles on the freeway did not work.” “The steering behavior at entrances and exits or motorway junctions is spongy and resembles that of a ‘drunk novice driver’,” the Germany media outlet reported. see also The Model 3 also did not “recognize” traffic lights and stop signs, according to Spiegel. Tesla boss Elon Musk admitted last year that the beta version of his company’s FSD technology was “not great.” “FSD Beta 9.2 is actually not great [in my opinion], but Autopilot/AI team is rallying to improve as fast as possible. We’re trying to have a single stack for both highway & city streets, but it requires massive NN retraining,” Musk said. Tesla’s FSD software is a more premium iteration of the company’s Autopilot system. Autopilot, which comes standard on every new Tesla, provides traffic-aware cruise control and autosteering, though the company says a driver must still be attentive behind the wheel. The FSD package, which sells for $10,000 or $199 per month in the US, offers more features such as auto lane change and smart summon. But European buyers cannot access many of the function’s features due to local traffic regulations. German authorities launched an investigation last year over Tesla’s automatic lane-changing technology. Despite the public perception, Tesla says FSD and its attendant features require “active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” FSD Beta, which offers cutting-edge updates to the full self-driving software, is only available to some drivers and Tesla employees. Critics have previously decried Tesla’s real-time testing of its FSD Beta software on public roads as reckless, but there’s scant regulation in the field of autonomous driving software.

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